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Wrong Choice of Mouthwash Could Have Negative Side Effects


Wrong Choice of Product Could Have Negative Side Effects

Brush. Floss. Rinse mouth with mouthwash. From a young age, people are taught to follow this procedure to maximize the benefits of proper oral hygiene, but could mouth rinse actually cause more problems than good? According to the April 2007 issue of AGD Impact, the monthly newsmagazine of the AGD, the improper selection of a mouth rinse may cause side effects worse than the condition being treated.


"It all depends on each individual's oral health concerns," explains Barbara Rich, DDS, FAGD, AGD spokesperson. "If someone has a lot of inflammation which is causing bleeding gums, then the side effect of staining caused by some prescription mouthwashes may be worth it to improve their health. Staining can be polished off at the regular semiannual visit to the dentist."


Dr. Rich further explains, however, that if minty-fresh taste is the only reason for a person using mouth rinses, but they have dry mouth or get ulcers from strong alcohol content in the mouthwash, it may not be worth using it.


 There are two categories of mouth rinses: cosmetic (over-the-counter) and prescription. Both products are meant to help remove oral debris before or after brushing. These products provide a pleasant taste in the mouth and temporary relief from bad breath while diminishing bacteria in the mouth. Therapeutic rinses are prescribed by a dentist and contain active ingredients that protect against some oral diseases.


What are the pros and cons of using mouthwashes? "The pros are improved health of gums, germ killing effects, fresh taste, and cavity prevention," says Dr. Rich. "The cons include altered taste, tooth staining, drying of oral tissues in the mouth, burning sensation, and ulcers."


When selecting a mouthrinse, Dr. Rich advises patients to choose one that is based on their individual needs. "If they have a dry mouth, but want a nice taste, they should look for a non-alcohol mouthwash so their tissues stay moist," she says. "If they often have cavities, they should use a fluoride rinse." It is best to consult with a general dentist about the best mouth rinse to meet the needs of your mouth.


What are the proper steps when using mouth rinses?


  • Before using a mouth rinse, brush and floss teeth.
  • Measure the proper amount of rinse recommended on the container or by a dentist.
  • Close lips and, keeping teeth slightly apart, swish liquid around the mouth.
  • Thirty seconds is the suggested rinsing time.
  • Finally, spit liquid from mouth thoroughly.
  • Do not rinse, eat, or smoke for thirty minutes after using a mouthwash. Doing so will diminish the effects of the mouthwash.

Updated: August 2007