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Do mouthwashes really make a difference?

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There are a raft of mouthwashes available in the supermarket or chemist’s, but are they really worth investing in? Find out right here.

Before we get into talking about mouthwashes, let’s be very clear about one thing – they are not a substitute for either brushing or flossing.


But assuming you want to use them as an added layer of protection for your oral health, there’s certainly something to be said for regular use of an effective mouthwash.


The first thing you’ve probably noticed when you look at the supermarket shelf holding the mouthwashes is that there’s a bewildering choice of promises being made.


Don’t believe everything you see in the TV ads


They can claim anything from keeping plaque at bay to giving you super-sweet breath for 24 hours. But don't be impressed by all the hype – there is a very definite limit as to what a mouthwash can achieve.


When you're making a choice, you should also opt for an alcohol-free version, as alcohol is known as a risk factor when it comes to oral cancer.


You should also be wary about claims that Brand X removes plaque. Certainly, come mouthwashes can help suppress it, but it would be wrong to say that they actually remove plaque that’s already built up.


What to look for when making your choice


  • If you're concerned with fresh breath confidence, then simply pick one that you like the smell of.


  • If your dentist has told you that you need some extra fluoride, then a high fluoride rinse will fit the bill.


  • If there’s a problem with gum disease, then chlorhexidine (savacol or corysdyl) are popular, but they don’t taste great, so they tend to be used less regularly than other mouthwashes.


  • If all three factors are an issues, the good news is that itls possible to achieve all these objectives in a single mouthwash.


In the UK, Colgate Plax and Listerine mouthwashes have been accredited by the British Dental Association- an endorsement that might influence you when making your choice in the supermarket aisle.


But regardless of the choice you make, as with any other part of your dental care regime, regularity is important. Your mouthwash will do very little for you if it’s used once or twice and then left sitting on the bathroom shelf.


And as we’ve mentioned earlier, it’s essential that you don't start using a mouthwash as an alternative to brushing or flossing. This is an absolute no-no, and you should promise yourself that the mouthwash will only be used as an add-on to an already excellent dental health regime.


We can tell you with absolute confidence that, with a combination of all the various elements we’ve talked about in these blogs (brushing, flossing, interdental brushes and mouthwashes), it's absolutely possible to go through your entire life without any significant periodontal disease.


You can take it from us that your average periodontist is a very nice person, but why meet him unless you have to?