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Questions and Answers

Mouthrinses or Mouthwashes

  1. Why use a mouthrinse?
  2. What does a mouthrinse do?
  3. What are the main ingredients and properties of conventional mouthrinses?
  4. Should I swallow the mouthrinse?
  5. What do alternative or herbal mouthrinses contain?

 
1. Why use a mouthrinse?

  • Daily oral hygiene practice should include brushing with toothpaste, flossing, and rinsing with a mouthwash.
  • The mouthrinse reaches between the teeth, where the toothbrush cannot get to.
  • It also disinfects all the oral tissues, including the tongue.

See Halitosis

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2. What does a mouthrinse do?

  • Similar claims are made for mouthrinses as for toothpastes:
    • They freshen the mouth and protect the teeth from decay.
    • Breath freshening is a feature of all mouthrinses.
    • Most mouthrinses contain fluoride to prevent decay.
    • Some mouthrinses claim to have antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
    • Treatment for sensitive teeth is included in many mouthrinses.
    • The instructions and age restrictions listed on the container should be strictly adhered to.

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3. What are the main ingredients and properties of conventional mouthrinses?

  • Peroxide.
    • This is an antiseptic which is used to treat mouth ulcers and gingivitis with bleeding gums.
    • It should only be used for a limited time.
  • Chlorohexidine.
    • This is an antibacterial and antiviral medication.
    • It is used to treat gingivitis.
    • Chlorohexidine may leave stains on the teeth, but the dentist can remove them (see Staining of Teeth).
    • Chlorohexidine is safe to use for a short time.
  • Fluoride
    • Fluoride mouthrinses can reduce and prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Potassium chloride
    • This chemical is used to desensitise teeth.
  • Triclosan
    • Triclosan is an antibacterial ingredient, and is also used in many toothpastes.

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4. Should I swallow the mouthrinse?

  • No. Mouthrinses are not to be swallowed. However, it doesn’t matter if you swallow some by mistake.
  • Peroxide and chlorohexidine are not safe to swallow. They are safe for rinsing only.
  • The regular use and spitting out of a fluoride mouthwash is perfectly safe.
  • Excessive doses of fluoride can cause fluorosis or can even be toxic.

See Fluoride

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5. What do the alternative or herbal mouthrinses contain?

  • Herbs, essential oils and other natural products are the main ingredients of alternative products.
  • The ingredients are claimed to have many beneficial effects:
    • Aloe Vera has a soothing effect.
    • Vitamin K strengthens teeth.
    • Tee tree oil is an antibacterial and antiviral ingredient.
    • Grapefruit seed extract has antiseptic and antibacterial properties.
    • Echinacea is anti-inflammatory and antiviral.
    • Goldenseal claims to be anti-inflammatory and antiviral.
      It is also an antibiotic.
    • Peppermint oil and menthol are added for fresh, natural flavour.

See Alternative Dentistry

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