Dr. Hanan A. Elsaie DDS,
one of America’s Top Dentists, Consumers’ Research Council of America, Guide to America’s Top Dentists

Dominion 1 Dental - Arlington, TX. Tel: (817) 784-7888

Home Dental Education

Mouth Rinses

How to Use Mouthwash Correctly and MOST Effectively

Mouth Rinses - or mouthwashes are generally categorized by the US Food and Drug Administration as either cosmetic, therapeutic, or a combination of both. Cosmetic Rinses can be bought over the counter while therapeutic rinses are regulated by the FDA. Both types of rinses help wash away oral debris prior or post brushing, restrains bad breathe, abate bacteria in the mouth, and leaves a pleasant taste in the mouth to refresh it. The only difference between the two types of rinses is the presence of an active agent against certain oral diseases. Therapeutic rinses can be classified according to use: antiplaque, antigingivitis rinses and anticavity fluoride rinses. Therapeutic rinses are prescribed for severe oral problems such as caries, periodontal disease, gum inflammation and xerostomia (dry mouth).

Most rinses are effective in preventing bad breathe for up to three hours. Mouth rinses should not be used as a substitute for brushing and flossing, since studies show that most mouth rinses are only 20 to 25 percent effective in reducing plaque that causes gingivitis. However, anticavity rinses have been clinically proven to be 50% more effective in curbing bacteria that cause cavities. Anticavity rinses full effect could only be gained by following these steps:

- Take the appropriate amount of liquid as specified on the container or as instructed by your dentist into your mouth

- With the lips closed and the teeth kept slightly apart, gargle the liquid around with as much force as possible using the tongue, lips, and sucking action of the cheeks. Make sure to gargle the front and sides of the mouth equally. Do this for about 30 seconds

- Lastly, rinse off the liquid from your mouth

To reap the maximum benefit of mouth rinses, do it after brushing and flossing.

There may be adverse effects in using mouth rinses. These effects vary depending on the type of rinse.

- Mouth rinses with high levels of alcohol (from 18 to 26 percent) may cause a burning sensation in the cheeks, teeth and gums if used habitually.

- A lot of prescribed rinses with more concentrated formulas can lead to ulcers, sodium retention, root sensitivity, stains, soreness, numbness, changes in taste sensation and painful mucosal erosions

- Most anticavity rinses have sodium fluoride, which if taken excessively or swallowed frequently, can lead to fluoride toxicity. Children are most prone to this as they tend to swallow mouthwash.

Be sure to consult with your dentist to be educated properly about the use of mouthwash. If you suffer any of these irritating reactions, discontinue use and immediately consult your dentist.