Does Antiplaque Rinse Improve Oral Health?

anti-plaque rinse

A good place to start with this question is to ask what an oral rinse is. Oral rinses are also known as mouthwashes or mouth rinses and are solutions that you take into your mouth and swish around, bathing your tongue, gums and teeth in them, for different reasons. It could be to help with halitosis, keep oral tissues moist, reduce oral discomfort or keep your mouth clean. These rinses can either be prescribed or bought over the counter. They can also be categorized as therapeutic, cosmetic or a combination of both. 

The other day I had a conversation with my downtown Seattle dentist located near Amazon and we had a conversation about mouth rinses. He maintained that they could do a lot more for your mouth than prevent bad breath. Mouth rinses can be effective in the prevention of gum disease, so long as you use a rinse formulated to fight bacteria. Mouth rinses with fluoride can also be used in the prevention of tooth decay. 

Rinses for Controlling Plaque

Toothbrushes can be effective in controlling gingivitis and plaque. However, they are not enough for everyone. That is why there are mouth rinses that have been formulated specifically for this purpose. Chlorhexidine is the most potent ingredient in such mouth rinses. 

Most rinses used before brushing the teeth and after brushing the teeth contain triclosan and copolymer. They are highly effective against both plaque and gingivitis. They typically contain essential oils and do very well in improving overall oral health. 

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These rinses are not quite as strong as the rinses that contain chlorhexidine. These are far more powerful in controlling plaque and keeping our gums healthy. They do, however, have a few disadvantages. To start with, it is not advised to use them long term, such as over a period of between three and four weeks. Such long-term use could affect oral flora. They also tend to stain the teeth. However, the stains are nonpermanent and a dentist can easily remove them. 

Generally speaking, you should use the milder triclosan-containing mouthwashes when your plaque and gum problems are relatively mild and go for the more powerful chlorhexidine-containing mouthwash when you have more acute gum problems. 

The Special Case of Alcohol

Most commercial mouthwashes contain alcohol. Children are more likely to swallow a mouthwash than adults. Alcohol can be lethal for children age 12 and younger if consumed in copious amounts. This is why it is advised to not give mouthwashes with alcohol to children age 12 and younger. A similar case can be made for mouthwashes that contain sodium fluoride since fluoride toxicity can result from excessive consumption of fluoride. 

Luckily, there are mouthwashes out there without alcohol that are as effective as the ones with alcohol. All the same, you should be careful not to overdo mouthwash. Overdosing on mouthwash can lead to a variety of symptoms, including dizziness, drowsiness, breathing problems, excessive thirst and sweating, slurred speech and trouble walking normally.