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Is It Important To Use Mouthwash?

In this article, we have included everything that you need to know about mouthwash. To be honest, there isn’t much you need to know.

Short Answer: Mouthwash is a good supplement to your oral care routine, but is not absolutely necessary.

Mouthwash can be helpful for preventing against tooth decay and other dental disease if used correctly. If you are going to use a mouthwash, it should contain fluoride. Continue reading this article and we will go through those points in a little more detail.

Why use mouthwash?

Using mouthwash can be a great addition to your dental health routine. It is not a replacement for brushing your teeth twice a day but it can still help to protect your teeth against tooth decay and gum disease. Tooth brushing is required to physically remove plaque (a soft build up of bacteria) whereas mouthwash cannot do this.

The mouthwash you use should contain fluoride, otherwise there is almost no point in using it. Fluoride adds itself to the surface of your teeth, strengthening them. Fluoride also slows the rate that bacteria in plaque grow and multiply. It is the key ingredient in any toothpaste and it’s exactly the same with mouthwash.

How much fluoride should my mouthwash contain?

When buying a bottle of mouthwash, take a look at the ingredients on the back. Don’t worry if a lot of the ingredients look unfamiliar. You need to be looking for fluoride. It will either say something like Sodium fluoride or its chemical formula (NaF).

Once you’ve found this, you need to check the amount of fluoride. Your mouthwash should contain 0.05% Sodium fluoride (NaF). The label should either say 0.05% NaF or 225PPM F. PPM means ‘parts per million’. Both 0.05% and 225PPM mean exactly the same thing. As long as your mouthwash contains this, you are onto a winner!

How and when should I use mouthwash?

Mouthwash should be used at a different time than brushing!

This may seem to go against how most of us think we should use mouthwash. All of the advertisements show people brushing their teeth and then using a mouthwash right after.

As mentioned above, the key ingredient in any mouthwash is the same as in toothpaste; fluoride. When you rinse with mouthwash straight after you brush, you are just washing away the good stuff in the toothpaste and swapping it for the mouthwash. You are swapping like with like. Fluoride for fluoride.

So there’s not much point in using a mouthwash at the same time as brushing your teeth.

But mouthwash can be really good at protecting your teeth when used at a separate time to brushing. A good time to rinse with a fluoride mouthwash is after lunch or when you come in from a day out. Brushing to remove plaque will always be much more effective than rinsing with mouthwash. However, the extra fluoride can make the difference in protecting against cavities and tooth decay. If you have previously suffered with lots of cavities, we would strongly recommend that you use a fluoride mouthwash.

Should children be using mouthwash?

Advice from Public Health England says that children under 7 years old should not use mouthwash. They recommend that children aged 7 years and older who have had previous tooth decay should use a mouthwash at a different time to brushing.

If your child is 7 years or older and has not suffered with tooth decay, it is your choice whether they use it or not. If your child is 7 years old or older, they can use the same fluoride mouthwash that an adult would use as long as they spit it out and do not swallow it. As mentioned above, this should be done at a separate time from tooth brushing so that your child getting the full strengthening benefit of the fluoride.

When looking at the label, the mouthwash should contain the same amount of fluoride as in mouthwash for an adult as described above. This is 0.05% (otherwise called 225PPM) Sodium fluoride (NaF).

What about alcohol mouthwash?

Alcohol mouthwash is quite unnecessary, unless your only goal is to quickly get a more fresh breath. Some claims have been made that the alcohol in mouthwash can contribute to causing oral cancer. However, these accusations are scientifically unclear as of now.

What about antibacterial mouthwash such as Chlorhexidine?

Antibacterial mouthwashes are heavily advertised. They are quite popular, even among dentists who regularly recommend them. The most famous of these is Corsodyl. Corsodyl contains an antibacterial called chlorohexidine which kills bacteria that cause gum disease.

Although chlorohexidine does kill bacteria that cause gum disease, when used in a mouthwash, it does not stay in your mouth long enough to have any real effect. Evidence has shown that Corsodyl mouthwash is not particularly effective at improving the health of your gums.

The big downside of mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine is that it can heavily stain your teeth when used for a prolonged period of time (every day for more than a week). This stain often can not even be removed by your dentist or hygienist.