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Pros and Cons of Using a Mouthwash

The advertising agencies give a big push to the usage of mouthwashes they promote. According to them using mouthwash should be a compulsory part of everyone routine dental care.

Who doesn’t love the freshness in the mouth which comes after swishing the mouthwash? The label mentions the ingredients which boast to be a plaque remover, teeth whitener, and even a gum disease fighter.

No doubt it is actually capable of fulfilling most of the things it’s advertised for. But have you ever thought, what could be the negative health effects related to it?

First, let’s discuss the various health benefits related to the use of mouthwash

Pros and Cons of Using a Mouthwash

Pros of Using a Mouthwash

Regular use of mouthwash would serve with the following health benefits

  1. Cut Down On Cavities: Fluoride is one of the contents of mouthwash, the regular use of which reduces the occurrence of cavities. Fluoride is a natural element which strengthens teeth and prevents decay.(2) A study conducted for the same showed a significant difference in the oral health of the group using fluoride-rich products in dental hygiene from those who did not.(1)
  2. Fights Gum Disease: In gingivitis, the gums and the tooth sockets get infected and inflamed because of the plaque from the bacteria and food that get stuck in the teeth. The antibacterial property of a mouthwash fights with the bacterial build-up and protects the gums from getting inflamed.
  3. Soothes Canker Sores: Mouthwash soothes the canker sores by detoxicating the area. Canker sores are really painful and bring in an uncomfortable feeling. A non-alcohol based mouthwash helps the sores heal faster by eradicating the inflammation-causing bacteria around the sores.
  4. Safeguards Pregnancy: Periodontal disease is a risk factor for preterm labor and low-weight babies.

The bacteria from the gum infection can get into the bloodstream of the mother, which leads to an increase in the inflammatory markers. This can stimulate contractions.(3) A study shows a mouthwash if reduces the risk of gum disease could surely be helpful in preventing adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm labor, low birth weight, and reduce infant mortality.(4)

Mouthwash really has some beneficial effects on health to look out for. That does not mean you should depend just on the mouthwash for oral health care. Oral care routine should be followed properly along with using the mouthwash to rinse away any leftover infection.

Cons of Using Mouthwash

Most of the cons of mouthwash are caused due to the alcohol present in it.

  1. Oral Cancer: A lot of debate is still being carried out on the role of mouthwash and development of oral cancer. An Australian researcher claimed to have found a link between alcohol in mouthwashes and mouth cancer.(5)
  2. Masks Bad Breath: Bad breath can be due to an infection or cavity in the teeth and gums. The mouthwashes mask the bad odor and cover the effect of poor oral health, which might require a visit to the dentist. This can lead to an increase in the condition.
  3. Irritates the Canker Sores: The high alcohol content of mouthwashes can irritate the canker sore rather than helping it. This can even aggravate the condition.
  4. Dry Mouth: Excessive use of mouthwash can dry up the mouth leading to a sensitive tooth, bad breath, and even cavities. Mouthwashes should not be used as a substitute for tooth brushing. They are helpful in reducing the periodontal diseases and cavities but should be used along with good hygiene habits.

Consider your personal situation and choose what suits you the best.

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 17, 2019

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