The benefits of using mouthwash generally depend on the type of mouthwash that is used. Many people find that using mouthwash daily gives them fresh breath and a clean feeling in the mouth. Some mouthwash solutions include fluoride, which may help fight cavities. Major drawbacks of using mouthwash that is alcohol based, however, may be irritation or burning, as well as dry mouth. Conversely, there are non-alcoholic mouthwash solutions that are formulated to help dry mouth.
Many types of mouthwash promote good oral hygiene for adults and children. Using mouthwash that contains fluoride may not only prevent cavities, it can also help prevent periodontal disease. Certain types of mouthwash may also help reduce oral plaque. Plaque is a sticky bio-film caused by bacteria that can harden into tartar between teeth and the surrounding gum line. Plaque and tartar are contributing factors of gingivitis and subsequent tooth loss.
Bacteria in the mouth can also cause foul-smelling breath. Many antiseptic mouthwash products claim to kill the germs that cause bad breath. For many people, this is another benefit of using mouthwash.
Some mouthwash products are designed to help heal sores or irritation after oral surgery. These products are typically available by prescription from a dentist or oral surgeon. Using this type of oral rinse is helpful for patients who cannot brush or floss their teeth for a period of time following oral surgery.
Although it is common to use an oral antiseptic or rinse after brushing and flossing the teeth, using mouthwash can be harmful to young children. The major concern for mouthwash use in children under the age of five is the possibility of ingestion. If a child swallows a significant amount of mouthwash, it could pose a serious health risk. According to experts, the potential of poisoning from children using mouthwash is due to the alcohol content. Accidental ingestion of alcoholic mouthwash may cause convulsions, brain damage, or coma in children.
In fact, the risk of using alcohol-based mouthwash is not only a threat to children. Medical researchers have discovered there is a higher incidence of oral cancer in individuals who use alcoholic mouthwash. According to experts, individuals should choose an oral rinse that is alcohol free to minimize or eliminate the risk of cancer from using mouthwash.