How Mouthwash Works

While everyone knows the importance of brushing and flossing daily, many people wonder about the importance of using mouthwash as part of their daily oral care routine. While it does work well for freshening your breath instantly, your mouthwash is doing more for you. Here’s a look at how mouthwash does its magic.

type of mouthwashThe basic ingredients of all types of mouthwash are water, alcohol, cleansing agents, flavoring ingredients and coloring agents. Depending on the type of mouthwash you use, it’ll have various other active ingredients. In general, they fall into four categories:

  • Antimicrobial mouthwashes contain agents that help fight oral bacteria to help reduce plaque, ease the severity of gum disease and control bad breath.
  • Fluoride mouthwashes help reduce tiny lesions on tooth enamel, which are the beginnings of cavities and the fluoride makes teeth more resistant to decay.
  • Astringent mouthwashes contain salts that can serve as temporary deodorizers to mask bad breath.
  • Mouthwashes that contain odor neutralizers chemically inactivate odor causing compounds in the mouth.

When you’re in the mouthwash aisle in the store, look for the ADA seal of approval, regardless of which type you buy. In general, the act of using mouthwash as part of your routine removes the food particles stuck in your teeth that lead to bad breath when they start breaking down. Most people use mouthwash after brushing and flossing, but using it before can rinse out any loose particles beforehand, making your brushing and flossing routine more effective.
Especially if you are pregnant, talk to your dentist about how using mouthwash can help protect you from gum disease. Not only are expecting mothers more prone to gum disease due to hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy, but periodontal disease is actually a risk factor for giving birth prematurely. The bacteria from a gum infection can get into a pregnant woman’s bloodstream and increase inflammatory markers, which in turn can stimulate contractions. Studies have shown that moms-to-be who used mouthwash throughout their pregnancy were less likely to go into early labor.
The benefits of using a daily rinse as part of your oral care routine are numerous, but mouthwashes should not be used as a substitute for brushing. Regardless of what type of mouthwash you use, it’s still important to use it in conjunction with brushing and flossing as well as regular visits to the dentist. To learn more about the best types of mouthwash for your particular needs, talk to your dentist today!