Does mouthwash help prevent gum disease, and which one should I use?

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General Dental Care
BSc, DDS (Melb)

Toothpaste Toothbrushes and MouthwashThe answer is both yes and no! There are a number of types of mouth rinses, also known as mouthwash, available. Some are advantageous to oral health, whereas others offer no clear benefits.

Prevention and treatment of decay

Fluoride rinses are used, upon the recommendation of a dentist or hygienist, in order to assist prevention or to manage early decay. The significant volume of fluoride in these rinses helps to strengthen teeth and can help to reverse early decay.

These fluoride mouth rinses are recommended only by an oral health practitioner and thus are not readily available at a supermarket. For example, your hygienist may recommend a fluoride rinse after a professional clean at the practice, or a general dentist may recommend a high fluoride rinse to use at home on a regular basis.

These mouth rinses can be purchased from either Smile Solutions or from your local pharmacy but are only recommended for use under the guidance of your dentist or hygienist. They must always be kept away from children.

Prevention and treatment of gum disease

No mouth rinse has been proven to prevent gum disease; however, a “periodontist” (a dentist who specialises in gum disease) may recommend use of an antibacterial mouth rinse in conjunction with in-chair treatment in some situations.

These rinses may also be recommended by dentists in the case of some mouth infections or following the extraction of a tooth. These mouth rinses can have unwanted side effects if not used appropriately. Therefore, these too cannot be purchased at supermarkets but are available at pharmacies or at Smile Solutions.

Other mouth rinses

The other group of mouth rinses are those found at a local supermarket. They may be used in addition to brushing and flossing, as frequently as preferred. Some people find benefits such as fresher breath; however, studies reveal that their ability to improve oral hygiene is limited.

Research has indicated that there may be a link between oral cancer and the use of mouth rinses that contain alcohol. It is recommended, therefore, that only mouth rinses without alcohol as an ingredient should be used. 

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