A popular question that patients ask their dentists is whether or not they need to use mouthwash. The truth of the matter is that anything you do to have a cleaner mouth will improve your oral health – as well as your overall health. Mouthwash is one of those items that is typically not categorized as a necessity, but it is certainly not harmful and can benefit many people.
At times, mouthwash can be just an added expense. Depending on whether you use it once or twice (or more) a day, a bottle of mouthwash does not last that long. Many people are relieved to learn that they do not need mouthwash to achieve a healthy smile. Brushing the teeth at least twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting the dentist twice a year are enough for most people who have good oral health. However, mouthwash can provide many benefits for those who struggle with certain oral health concerns.
Due to genetics, your natural water supply, diet, and personal habits (e.g. smoking, biting your nails, being addicted to hard candies) some people need more help in the oral health department than others. Gingivitis is a condition that plagues many people across the United States. Whether they live off well water that is not treated with fluoride or they have a family history of gum disease, mouthwash is known to be beneficial to these individuals. Gum disease is caused by harmful bacteria lining the teeth and gum line in the substance known as dental plaque. When plaque builds up on the teeth and gums, it causes irritation and infection to occur. Mouthwash that contains alcohol as a main ingredient is beneficial for killing bacteria so that they do not infect the gum tissues.
Children are often prone to cavities and tooth decay. Children are often allowed to drink juice throughout the day, eat cookies and highly starchy foods, and are often allowed to fall asleep at night without brushing their teeth. In these cases, mouthwash can help protect children’s teeth from decay. You do not want to use a mouthwash that contains alcohol in young children because of the risk of swallowing it, but there are mouthwashes on the market specifically created for young teeth.
In the end, there is no “yes” or “no” to answer the question of whether or not mouthwash is necessary. It simply depends on your mouth and your personal commitment to oral health. Of course, it really cannot harm your mouth, so if you feel inclined to include mouthwash in your daily routine, by all means do so!