You know you should brush and floss twice a day every day. But what’s the deal with mouthwash? Is it even important to dental care? Do you really need it?
Absolutely! Mouthwash is a liquid. It has the unique ability to access all areas of the mouth — the back teeth, the roof of your mouth, in-between the teeth — places a brush and even dental floss cannot. Mouthwash destroys the bacteria that cause plaque, cavities and bad breath.
Plus, mouthwash kills bad breath and actually makes you a better kisser. Tell that to your teenager (or husband)!
Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Mouthwash?
It’s important to keep in mind that most mouthwashes contain alcohol or fluoride, which can be unhealthy if used too much. Overuse of alcohol mouthwash can dry out areas of the mouth and cause cracks and sores. Too much can also be hard on cheeks, the tongue, and gums. Mouthwash can also be a problem for recovering alcoholics and even lead to relapse.
Flouride has great dental benefits, but too much can be destructive to other parts of the body. Overuse of fluoride can cause dental fluorosis in children. This is a condition where tooth enamel fails to crystallize properly, leading to brittleness and teeth that stain easily. In large amounts, fluoride can also cause skeletal fluorosis, a rare bone condition characterized by brittle bones and pain.
Rinsing with mouthwash several times a week shouldn’t be enough to cause these problems. Talk to your dentist about dental care if you have any concerns.
Alternatives to Traditional Mouthwash
Some families prefer a natural alternative to alcohol or fluoride based mouthwashes. Fortunately, you have several options.
Saltwater rinses can be very effective at killing bacteria. But we’d recommend rinsing with salt water no more than 3 to 4 times per week because it can be hard on your enamel.
Tea tree oil rinses can also be beneficial to dental care. Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Mouthwash is an option. TheraNeem Mouthwash is another mouthwash alternative. It is a blend of natural extracts including Neem bark, Neem leaf, and clove oil.