Guide to Oral Rinses and Mouthwash

Oral Rinses and Mouthwash

In the realm of dental hygiene, brushing and flossing often take centre stage, while the role of oral rinses as part of the good oral hygiene routine is sometimes overlooked as just something to give you fresh breath. However, oral rinses are a valuable addition to your dental care routine, offering benefits that extend beyond just a minty-fresh breath.

Why Use Oral Rinses?

Oral rinses, commonly known as mouthwashes, serve several important purposes in maintaining oral health:

  • Reducing Bacteria: Oral rinses contain active ingredients, such as antiseptics and antimicrobial agents, which help reduce the bacteria responsible for plaque and gum diseases.
  • Freshening Breath: This is the most well-known benefit of oral rinses. They help eliminate bad breath by killing odour-causing bacteria.
  • Preventing Cavities: Some oral rinses contain fluoride, which helps strengthen enamel and prevent tooth decay.
  • Gum Health: Rinses formulated with anti-inflammatory ingredients can aid in reducing gum inflammation and promoting healthier gums.

What’s Safe and Effective?

When selecting an oral rinse, it is important to choose products that are both safe and effective. Look for the following qualities:

  • Alcohol-Free Options: Alcohol-based rinses can cause dry mouth and irritation. Opt for alcohol-free alternatives, especially if you have sensitive gums.
  • Clinically Tested: Choose products that have undergone clinical testing to ensure their efficacy in addressing specific oral health concerns.

How to use Oral Rinse Mouthwashes

Incorporating oral rinses into your daily routine is simple:

  1. Brush and Floss: Always start by brushing and flossing your teeth to remove food particles and plaque.
  2. Pour: Measure the recommended amount of oral rinse into a cup. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product label.
  3. Swish: Swish the rinse around your mouth for the recommended duration (usually around 30 seconds to 1 minute). Gargle gently, ensuring it reaches all areas of your mouth.
  4. Spit: After swishing, spit out the rinse into the sink.
  5. Do not Rinse: Avoid rinsing your mouth with water immediately afterwards to allow the active ingredients to continue working and leaves you with fresh breath.

Listerine MouthwashAverage Costs of Mouthwashes

Oral rinse prices can vary depending on the brand, ingredients, and size of the bottle. On average, basic mouthwashes can range from $5 to $10, while more specialised rinses with additional benefits might cost around $10 to $20 or more.

Our Top Product Recommendations in Australia

  • Colgate Plax Alcohol-Free Mouthwash: This rinse offers protection against bacteria and plaque without the drying effects of alcohol.
  • Listerine Total Care Zero Alcohol: A fluoride-rich option that promotes cavity prevention and fresh breath, suitable for those avoiding alcohol-based rinses.
  • Sensodyne Pronamel Daily Mouthwash: Specifically designed for sensitive teeth, this rinse helps protect enamel and maintain a healthy mouth.
  • Curasept ADS 220 or Colgate Savacol Alcohol-Free Chlorhexidine Mouthwash: Recommended by dental professionals, this rinse provides strong antimicrobial benefits for gum health.

When choosing the right oral rinse should align with your specific oral health needs. Regular use, in combination with brushing and flossing, can significantly contribute to a healthier mouth and a confident smile. Incorporating mouthwash into your daily routine can be a significant change for your oral health. By selecting safe and effective products and following the proper usage process, you will be taking a proactive step towards maintaining a radiant smile and optimal oral well-being.

What is Chlorhexidine Mouthwash?

Chlorhexidine mouthwash is an antiseptic oral rinse that contains the active ingredient chlorhexidine gluconate. Chlorhexidine is a chemical compound known for its strong antimicrobial properties, making it effective at killing a wide range of bacteria and microorganisms in the mouth. It is often used as a prescription or over-the-counter mouthwash for various dental purposes.

Chlorhexidine mouthwash is commonly recommended in the following situations:

  • Gum Disease Treatment and Prevention: Chlorhexidine mouthwash is often prescribed by dentists to treat and manage gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. It can help reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth, thereby reducing inflammation and promoting gum healing.
  • Postsurgical Care: After certain dental procedures, like dental implants, tooth extractions or periodontal surgeries, chlorhexidine mouthwash might be recommended to prevent post-operative infection and aid in the healing process.
  • Oral Infections: In cases of oral infections, oral ulcers, or other conditions where bacterial control is important, chlorhexidine mouthwash can help keep the oral environment clean and promote healing.
  • Preventing Tooth Decay: Some chlorhexidine mouthwashes contain fluoride, which can help strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities.
  • Orthodontic Treatment: Individuals with braces or other orthodontic appliances might be advised to use chlorhexidine mouthwash to maintain good oral hygiene and reduce the risk of bacterial buildup around the appliances.

Using Chlorhexidine Mouthwash

Chlorhexidine mouthwash is typically used under the guidance of a dentist or healthcare professional, as it can have specific instructions based on the purpose of use. However, always read the instructions and guidelines on the product packaging and call your Aria dentist for further clarification if required.

Important to note:

  • Chlorhexidine mouthwash can cause temporary staining of teeth and dental restorations. This staining is reversible and can be removed by a dental professional.
  • Extended use of chlorhexidine mouthwash (beyond what is recommended by your dentist) can lead to changes in taste sensation and the development of resistant bacteria. It is important to follow your dentist’s instructions closely.
  • If you experience any adverse reactions, such as mouth irritation or allergic reactions, discontinue use and consult your dentist or healthcare provider.

Chlorhexidine mouthwash can be a valuable tool for specific oral health needs when used as directed by a dental or oral cancer professional. Always consult your dentist before starting any new oral hygiene products or treatments.

Difference between a Fluoride wash and Mouthwash?

The terms “fluoride mouthwash” and “mouthwash” are often used interchangeably, but there can be some differences in their formulation and intended purpose. The main difference between the two is the active ingredient. Fluoride mouthwash contains concentrated fluoride alone, which aims to strengthen enamel and prevent cavities, while regular mouthwash typically focuses on breath freshening and reducing bacteria.

Fluoride Mouthwash

Fluoride mouthwash is a type of oral rinse that contains an active ingredient called fluoride and is offered as part of your routine dental clean. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been proven to be effective in strengthening tooth enamel and preventing tooth decay. When used regularly, fluoride helps remineralise weakened areas of enamel and makes teeth more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria and sugars in the mouth.

The primary purpose of fluoride mouthwash is to provide an extra layer of protection against cavities. It is especially beneficial for individuals who are at a higher risk of developing tooth decay, such as children, people with a history of cavities, and those with weakened enamel. Dentists often recommend fluoride mouthwash to supplement fluoride intake and enhance the overall oral health routine.

Regular Mouthwash

Regular mouthwash, also known as general mouth rinse or cosmetic mouthwash, is a type of oral rinse that typically focuses on providing breath freshening, reducing bacteria, and improving the overall cleanliness of the mouth. These mouthwashes often contain antimicrobial agents like essential oils (e.g., menthol, eucalyptol, thymol), which help kill bacteria responsible for bad breath and gum diseases. Some varieties may also include ingredients that temporarily mask bad breath.

A regular mouthwash does not always contain fluoride, and its primary purpose is not cavity prevention. Instead, it is designed to offer a quick and refreshing solution for maintaining fresh breath between brushing and flossing.

Is Mouthwash Bad for You?

When used correctly and as part of a comprehensive oral hygiene routine, mouthwash is considered safe and beneficial for maintaining oral health. There are a few essential considerations to keep in mind:

  • Alcohol Content: Some mouthwashes contain alcohol, which can cause dry mouth and irritation in some individuals. Alcohol-free alternatives are available and might be a better choice, especially for people with sensitive gums or those prone to dry mouth.
  • Overuse: Using mouthwash excessively or too frequently can lead to potential problems. Overuse of certain types of mouthwashes, particularly those with antimicrobial properties, could disrupt the natural balance of oral bacteria. This disruption may not be ideal for overall oral health. Always follow the recommended usage instructions on the product label or as your dentist advises.
  • Swallowing: Mouthwash is not meant to be swallowed. Accidentally swallowing a small amount during rinsing is usually not a cause for concern, but consuming larger quantities of mouthwash can lead to alcohol poisoning or other adverse effects. Keep mouthwash out of reach of children and supervise their use if necessary.
  • Oral Health Routine: While mouthwash can be a valuable addition to your oral health routine, it should not replace regular brushing and flossing. Proper brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings remain the foundation of maintaining good oral health.
  • Specific Ingredients: Some individuals might be sensitive or allergic to certain ingredients found in mouthwash. If you experience any adverse reactions, such as irritation, swelling, or rash, discontinue use and consult a healthcare professional.
  • Consultation with Dentist: If you have specific dental conditions, such as gum disease, tooth sensitivity, or a history of cavities, it is a good idea to consult your dentist before incorporating mouthwash into your routine. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your oral health needs.

Using mouthwash daily can be safe if you choose a mild, alcohol-free option designed for daily use and follow the instructions provided on the product label. It is important to remember that not all mouthwashes are suitable for daily use, especially those with strong antimicrobial agents.

Consulting your dentist or oral health therapist before incorporating daily mouthwash use into your routine is advisable, as they can offer personalised recommendations based on your oral health needs. While mouthwash can be a valuable addition to your oral care routine, it should not replace regular brushing and flossing. Maintaining a balance between these practices ensures you are promoting optimal oral health and hygiene. If you experience any adverse effects or have concerns, it is best to discontinue use and seek professional dental advice.

Use Mouthwash to Stop Tooth Decay?

To use mouthwash, particularly fluoride-containing mouthwash, can help prevent decay and dental plaque through a combination of factors:

  • Fluoride Protection: Fluoride is a mineral that helps strengthen tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks from bacteria and sugars in the mouth. Fluoride is naturally found in many water sources and foods, but using fluoride-containing mouthwash provides an additional layer of protection. When you rinse with fluoride mouthwash, it coats your teeth with fluoride ions, which then get incorporated into the enamel, making it more resistant to decay.
  • Remineralisation: Tooth enamel can demineralize due to acid produced by bacteria in the mouth and dietary sugars. Fluoride helps reverse this process by promoting remineralization, where minerals like calcium and phosphate are redeposited into the enamel, making it stronger and less susceptible to cavities.
  • Reduction of Bacteria: Some mouthwashes, particularly those with antimicrobial properties, can help reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth. By decreasing the bacterial population, especially the acid-producing bacteria responsible for decay, mouthwash helps create a less acidic environment in the mouth, which is less conducive to cavities.
  • Prevention of Plaque Formation: Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums. Plaque buildup leads to the production of acids that can erode tooth enamel and cause decay. Certain mouthwashes with antibacterial agents can help inhibit plaque formation, reducing the risk of cavities.
  • Post-Brushing Protection: Using mouthwash after brushing and flossing can provide an extra layer of protection. It reaches areas that might be missed during brushing, helping to flush away remaining food particles and bacteria that contribute to decay.

Fluoride Toothpaste

Fluoride Toothpaste

Fluoride toothpaste is a fundamental component of a successful oral hygiene routine and is known for its crucial role in maintaining strong and healthy teeth. Enriched with fluoride, a mineral renowned for its dental benefits, fluoride toothpaste fortifies tooth enamel against the daily onslaught of acid-producing bacteria and sugary foods. As we brush with fluoride toothpaste, it deposits fluoride ions onto the surface of our teeth, aiding in the remineralization of enamel and bolstering its resistance to decay. This protective shield not only helps prevent cavities but also contributes to our teeth’ overall durability and longevity. Regular use of fluoride toothpaste is a cornerstone of oral care, promoting a brighter smile and safeguarding our teeth against the rigours of modern diets, kill harmful bacteria, preventing dental challenges, and freshens breath.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common oral health condition that affects the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It begins with gingivitis (mouth sores, mouth ulcers), characterised by inflamed gums that may bleed during brushing, and if left untreated, can progress to periodontitis, leading to gum recession and potential tooth loss. Poor oral health, tobacco use, genetics, and certain medical conditions can contribute to its development.

Mouthwash can play a crucial role in combating gum disease. Antiseptic and antibacterial mouthwashes, particularly those containing chlorhexidine, can help control the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, reducing inflammation and preventing the progression of gum disease. These mouthwashes can reach areas that brushing and flossing might miss, helping to control plaque and bacteria buildup along the gumline. It is important that while mouthwash can aid in managing gum disease, it should be part of a comprehensive oral health routine that includes regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings. Consulting a dentist for guidance on the right mouthwash and its proper use is essential for effectively addressing gum disease, and a referral to a Periodontist or specialist may be required.

Book an appointment with an Aria Dental.

Ready to take the first step towards achieving optimal oral health and goodbye to bad breath? Do not wait any longer – book an appointment with our skilled and compassionate oral health therapists at Aria Dental. Whether you are seeking preventive care, addressing specific concerns, or simply aiming for a brighter, healthier smile, our experienced team is here to provide personalised care tailored to your needs. With a commitment to exceptional patient experiences and a focus on your well-being, Aria Dental is your partner in achieving a lifetime of confident smiles. Schedule your appointment today and embark on a journey towards a healthier, happier you. Your smile deserves the best – and that is exactly what we are here to deliver.


Need more advice? Call our Patient Services team on 08 9226 2135.
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