Should you use Mouthwash every day?

| February 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Mouthwash is a prescription or over-the-counter liquid solution that is used to mask bad breath and to rinse the area of bacteria and debris. Some mouthwashes have fluoride which help in strengthening our teeth and prevent decay. When using mouthwash, it is important that you follow the instructions of the dentist or the directions on the product packing. In most cases, patients are asked to swish the mouthwash for about 30 seconds before spitting it out from their mouth. Also, patients should avoid eating or drinking for several hours after using the mouthwash.


Even though the ingredients used in mouthwash may vary depending on the brand you buy, some commonly used ingredients are:


Most mouthwashes have fluoride which prevents tooth decay and strengthens teeth.


Mouthwashes may also contain compounds like sanguinarine, cetylpyridinium chloride, phenolic and chlorhexidine which help in reducing the amount of germs and bacteria in the mouth.

Pain Relieving Agents

Some mouthwashes contain pain-relieving agents like anodynes.

Anti-tartar Agents

Zinc citrate is an ingredient used by many mouthwash manufacturers to reduce tartar build up in the mouth.

Oxidizing and Deodorizing Agents

To neutralize and mask bad odors, oxidizing and deodorizing agents like chlorine dioxide and sodium bicarbonate may be used by mouthwash manufacturers. Some manufacturers may also use oxygenating agents like hydrogen peroxide which add oxygen to the area and kill germs.

Buffering Agents

These ingredients are used to reduce acidity and soft tissue pain. Buffering agents also help in dissolving the build-up of film on mouth lining.

Some inactive ingredients that you can find in mouthwashes are alcohol and water which are used to sustain and dilute active ingredients. Most over-the-counter mouthwashes contain a significant amount of alcohol. Therefore, it is important that you check with your dentist before you buy an over-the-counter dental care product.

Types of Mouthwashes

Cosmetic Mouthwash

Mouthwashes can be broadly classified as therapeutic, cosmetic or a combination of two. Cosmetic mouthwashes are usually available over-the-counter and contain active ingredients like methyl salicylate, thymol, eucalyptol and menthol. However, most over-the-counter mouthwashes contain significant amount of alcohol, and must be taken after consulting a dentist. Using cosmetic mouthwashes helps in:

  • Temporarily masking bad breath and reducing bacterial levels in the mouth
  • Rinsing away oral debris
  • Provides refreshing and pleasant taste

Therapeutic Mouthwash

Most therapeutic mouthwashes not only offer the benefits of cosmetic mouthwashes but also contain active ingredients which help in treating oral health problems. Most therapeutic mouthwashes available in the marketplace are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Therapeutic mouthwashes fall into two basic categories:

Anti-gingivitis/Anti-plaque Therapeutic Mouthwash

This type of mouthwash is known to control bacterial growth in the mouth and helps in reducing symptoms of gingivitis. A common active ingredient of this mouthwash is chlorhexidine gluconate which helps in controlling bacterial plaque. Most therapeutic mouthwashes leave a bitter aftertaste or have an unpleasant taste. Also, some therapeutic mouthwashes contain alcohol, so make sure you check the ingredients of the product before using it.

Anti-cavity Therapeutic Mouthwash with Fluoride

Some therapeutic mouthwashes contain fluoride which prevents tooth decay and helps strengthen teeth. They are usually available over the counter. People, who are at high risk of tooth decay, may be advised to use this regularly in addition to their regular oral hygiene regimen.

Side Effects

Mouthwashes are generally safe but some products can cause side effects in people who use them regularly. Many over the counter products contain up to 26 percent alcohol which can harm your teeth and body. Also, habitual use of mouthwashes can cause burning sensation in teeth, cheeks, and gums. Concerns have been raised about the risk of oral cancer due to high alcohol contained in cosmetic and therapeutic mouthwashes. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove that mouthwashes increase the risk of oral cancer.

Some patients who use mouthwash regularly can suffer dry mouth which can increase the risk of tooth decay. Certain mouthwashes can upset the natural balance of bacteria which can lead to bacterial overgrowth. A few other side effects associated with the use of mouthwashes include:

  • Taste disorder
  • Tongue and mouth numbness or irritation
  • Retention of Sodium
  • Staining of teeth
  • Build-up of tartar
  • Mucosal erosion
  • Swelling of glands on the side of neck or face
  • Mouth Ulcers

Daily use of Mouthwash

Manufacturers of cosmetic mouthwash claim that their product promotes oral health. However, most dental experts disagree about the effectiveness of these products. Mouthwash may kill germs but their effect is only temporary because germs develop quickly. In fact, some dental experts are of the view that rinsing the mouth with ordinary water is as effective as using an over-the-counter mouthwash.

Studies have shown that oral rinsing is as effective as flossing. However, the American Dental Association has stated that these claims have not been substantiated. Flossing continues to be an effective way of removing debris stuck between the teeth. Even if mouthwashes reduce plague, they should be never be used as a replacement for flossing and brushing.

If you are suffering from bad breath, you can use a mouthwash for odor masking. However, if the problem persist, it is best that you contact your dentist. Some of the causes for bad breath include oral infection, diabetes, dry mouth, and respiratory tract infection. Using a mouthwash to deal with these problems will not help. You must visit a qualified healthcare professional to get these health problems treated.

Lawsuits and Studies

We are not aware of any official study conducted to test the side effects of using mouthwash. However, two articles that we came across on the internet, provides some insight into the possible problems associated with regular use of mouthwash. In a study published by Mirror UK, it was found that risk of oral cancer increases if you use mouthwash more than 3 times in a day.

Another article published on YourLawyer.Com suggests that using mouthwash can increase the risk of oral cancer. The article also gives details of how Australian researchers have found that using alcohol-based mouthwashes can increase the risk of oral cancer. A leading manufacturer of mouthwashes was so concerned about the results of the study that it took all possible steps to avoid lending credence to this report.


If your dentist has prescribed the use of mouthwash, it is best that you follow your healthcare professional’s advice. If you are using over the counter commercial mouthwash, it is best that you avoid using it. You can prepare a saltwater mouth rinse at home. All you need is salt and water to prepare this mix. Mix ½ teaspoon of salt with about 8 ounces of water. Rinse your mouth with this mix at least once a day. This mix will clear your oral tissues and is less irritating when compared to alcohol-based rinses.

Category: Health Tips

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