Brushing and flossing takes precedence over mouthwash also referred to as mouthrinse. It’s not a necessary part of oral health, but the rinse can be a helpful component with oral hygiene in getting between the teeth and areas where the toothbrush can’t reach to reduce cavity risks and the chance for gum disease. Additionally, it has the potential to:

  • Work in controlling decay
  • Reducing plaque
  • Decreasing the time it takes for tartar to form
  • Preventing gingivitis
  • Helping to freshen breath

The products are not recommended for small children under the age of six due to the fact they could swallow too much of the wash. In doing so, there could be adverse reactions like intoxication because of the alcohol ingredient contained in some rinses. There can also be vomiting and diarrhea. It’s recommended to follow labeling and manufacturer cautions regarding age limitations.

Understanding Mouthwash And The Use Of It

The least of benefits provided by mouthwash or mouthrinse is to resolve bad breath serving as a supplement to your daily oral hygiene regimen. Directives indicate the substance is to be “gargled” for a specific period of time and spit out. Most of these products offer antimicrobial ingredients among others meant to reduce bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum disease as well as inhibit sulfur for bad breath. 

The substance is no substitution for flossing or brushing in eliminating a majority of the bacteria from teeth or gums, but the suggestion is it has the potential for longer term benefits with oral health. 

This will depend on the rinse and its ingredients because each is unique in its composition and its purpose with some only working to eliminate odor. Others contain fluoride to target cavities or offer agents responsible for tackling bacteria to decrease gingivitis or plaque. Follow for advice on how to keep your mouth clean.

You should use the products after initially flossing and brushing. A downside to using the wash is  the potential for blocking what could be a root cause of bad breath potentially an underlying general health or oral health condition. 

Speak to a dentist if odor is a chronic issue for you so it can be determined if there is an underlying issue or in an effort to receive recommendations for an adequate rinse.

Mouthwash Types

Mouthwash is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration or FDA of the US in a therapeutic classification or cosmetic category, or they can be considered as both. The cosmetic variety are merely meant to temporarily freshen breath where therapeutic rinses are capable of reducing risks for disease, including instances of cavity or gingivitis.

  • Mouth Rinse That Is Cosmetic: These are over-the-counter, helping to control odor on a temporary basis leaving a fresh taste in the mouth after rinsing. But it has no capacity to combat disease like gingivitis, plaque, nor cavities.

When using the products, you will be removing debris that the toothbrush or flossing might miss. Dental providers are not sold on this type of wash due to its lack of ability to improve oral health, and the fact that the odor control is short-lived at merely only 15 minutes at most.

  • Mouthwash That Is Therapeutic: Wash of this type has many advantages. Depending on the active ingredients in the particular formulation, the products are capable of helping a variety of oral conditions like decay, mouth pain, gum disease, dry mouth, and, ultimately aside from merely eliminating odor, there are some capable of whitening teeth.

A lot of these can be found over-the-counter, but there are some you would need to receive a dental prescription based on the type of ingredients or the strength level. 

For an effective product, you want to find one containing fluoride along with active ingredients like essential oils, cetylpyridinium chloride, chlorine dioxide, and chlorhexidine, to decrease gingivitis and plaque, and offer antibacterial protection.

Some rinses consist of substantial levels of alcohol, as much as over 20%, which contributes to why mouthwash burns. The products are not to be swallowed. There might be an increased sensitivity for some people when rinsing with these particular ingredients.

Conditions Addressed By Mouth Rinses

Therapeutic mouthrinses have the capacity to address various oral health conditions. Most of these products can be found over-the-counter, but in some cases, based on the ingredients, dentists may need to provide a prescription in order to obtain the substances. Some issues relieved with rinses include:

  • Bad Breath (Halitosis): Most often odor is the result of a dry mouth, poor hygiene, because of the consumption of specific beverages or foods, or due to the use of tobacco products. It is actually considered a common oral health issue with potential underlying causes like mouth infections, systemic health conditions, or specific throat or nose issues.

Washes rectify the smells by decreasing bacteria and inhibiting sulfur compounds replacing these with clean scents. If you enlist good hygiene practices such as regular brushing, flossing and incorporate the therapeutic rinses along with a healthy diet, but continue to endure halitosis, you should visit your dentist to determine if there is an underlying condition.

  • Disease / Gingivitis: Inflamed gums or gingivitis is common when plaque accumulates on the gingiva and the surface of the teeth. There are millions of bacteria in plaque. There are specific washes with the capability to decrease the accumulation of plaque, killing the multitude of bacteria, in turn, reversing or preventing gingivitis.
  • Decay: Fluoride products work towards preventing decay of the teeth. The substance helps to make enamel stronger and battles acid attacks. Acid generates from the bacteria in plaque that eats away at the enamel on teeth when they’re not well taken care of regularly. 

When carbohydrates, sugars, and starches consumed stay on the teeth, bacteria are able to feed on these. Decay results as the acids from the bacteria eat away at the enamel on each tooth. Left to go on for an extended time, cavities develop, and eventually holes form when the enamel is destroyed.

Water provides fluoride as do these rinses and some toothpastes, which replace lost minerals and help to resist continual acid attack.

  • Relief Of Topical Pain: Most of the washes that provide relief of pain consist of anesthetics like lidocaine. These provide gentle numbing, relieving the instances of pain. A dentist is required to prescribe these products or a medical provider.
  • Whitening Formulas: Active ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide are incorporated into some washes as a way to reduce staining on teeth and make them brighter. Before results begin to show, the products need to be used regularly for an extended period, but the substances won’t have the same effects as typical cosmetic processes done by the dentist.
  • Mouth Dryness: Xerostomia commonly referred to as dry mouth is the result of a decrease in the flow of saliva or an absence. This can be a common adverse reaction with specific medications. 

Rinses specific for this condition help to rinse debris from the teeth and eliminate odors while offering ingredients to lubricate and ease the symptoms associated with the dryness experienced.

  • A Dry Socket (Alveolar): When a tooth is extracted, there can be complications, one of which is a dry socket where there is exposure of the underlying nerves and the bones beneath the extraction location. Exceptional pain results in the area of the pulled tooth and that area of the face. 

Claims suggest, following (third molar) wisdom extraction, rinses offering the ingredient chlorhexidine reduce the chance for dry socket. Again, these require a prescription.

In most instances, the use of rinses and washes for oral care is to attempt to eradicate bad breath or halitosis which is generally the result of poor oral care. Today, many people have a preference to stay away from commercial products with unrecognizable ingredients in favor of organic, natural, and sometimes homemade alternatives.

Alternative Remedies To Mouthwashes For Halitosis

Poor oral care is often the reason for halitosis. Many people don’t floss, brush infrequently, and often avoid mouthrinses, which are helpful in decreasing the accumulation of plaque responsible for decay and disease. 

Brushing is recommended at least two times each day for up to two minutes at a time. Flossing one of those times helps to keep bacteria from growing on pieces of food that remain stuck in between the teeth. And rinsing with a mouthwash helps to wash the teeth of loose debris and bacteria freed from the brushing and flossing. A majority of people don’t follow this oral regimen and many suffer with odor. Fortunately, there are easier ways to eliminate bad breath using remedies in the home. There are also natural options, which you can view here: .

  • Fresh Parsley: A popular folk remedy is the use of parsley in helping with odor. The fresh smell and level of chlorophyll indicates an effective deodorizing capacity. Studies performed in clinical trials, not on humans, were effective in fighting sulfur compounds emitting foul smells.

You can either chew on the fresh leaves following meals or you can indulge in a dietary supplement consisting of parsley for positive results.

  • Consuming Pineapple Juice: This is a common and popular remedy for halitosis known to be fast and exceptionally effective. There are no scientific trials to back the theory, but the anecdotal reports are significant to suggest its success.

You should drink a glass after each meal or consume a slice of fresh pineapple for a minute or two following meals. Because of the sugar content, rinsing with water is important afterward.

  • Water:  A dry mouth is often the culprit in cases of halitosis. Saliva is essential to maintaining cleanliness in oral hygiene. If you lack saliva, bacteria has the capacity to thrive. During sleep, the mouth becomes naturally dry creating “morning breath.” 

You can help alleviate the condition by keeping the body hydrated with plenty of water consumption as opposed to drinks that are sugary or caffeinated. Drinking sufficient water, at least eight glasses, throughout the day encourages the production of saliva.

  • Consume Yogurt: There is healthy bacteria known as lactobacillus in yogurt that helps to combat the bad bacteria found throughout the body, particularly in the gut. The suggestion is that the probiotics found in yogurt help to reduce symptoms of bad breath. In studies conducted, participants who ate a serving each day of nonfat, plain yogurt, saw a reduction of symptoms in 80% after six weeks.
  • Milk: It is well known that milk assists in decreasing halitosis. Drinking a glass of milk while consuming a meal or following the consumption will reduce symptoms.
  • Homemade Mouthwash With Vinegar: Vinegar has natural acid, “acetic acid,” in which bacteria don’t like to grow. Using vinegar rinse will reduce the growth of bacteria on teeth and gums.

With this recipe, two tablespoons of apple or white vinegar will blend with one cup of water to be gargled for approximately 30 seconds before spitting it out.

  • Homemade Mouth Rinse With Baking Soda: Sodium bicarbonate or baking soda has the capacity to eradicate oral bacteria. High concentrations of the product boasts the ability to reduce bad breath.

To make mouthwash containing baking soda, use two teaspoons of the substance blended with one cup of warm water that you’ll swirl in your mouth for 30 seconds or longer and then spit out.

Whether you use commercial remedies for odor or home remedies, most cases of halitosis originate in the mouth with treatment being as simple as improvements in oral care habits.

There are instances, though, when odor is an indication of a more serious underlying issue, including potential kidney failure, an infection, or possibly diabetic ketoacidosis. 

If you are experiencing chronic odor that is not improving despite good hygiene and continued use of rinses or washes, it’s vital to not hesitate in consulting with your dentist. The provider is the first step in attempting to determine the root cause for the problem. 

From that point you can be referred on to a general practitioner for consultation and a care plan for the root issue.  If you are cleared of underlying conditions, the dentist can assist in recommending mouthwashes or mouthrinse products that will relieve the halitosis more effectively, offering a prescription as appropriate.