Are Mouthwashes Beneficial?
It is my opinion that very few over the counter (OTC) mouthwashes are of benefit for your oral health! In fact, many of them are harmful! Plaque is a bacterial film or colony of bacteria. This sticky film must be interrupted mechanically by brushing and flossing in order to prevent it’s growth and maturation. (next blog will be ,what is plaque…?)
Some mouthwashes will kill some organisms but the underlying plaque film still remains and quickly recolonizes with bacteria. There are two main reasons OTC mouthwashes can be harmful. The first is many contain a large amount of alcohol (Listerine is over 25% alcohol!) which significantly causes a drying effect in your mouth, slowing down the secretion of your natural saliva. Saliva contains a wealth of protective enzymes and buffering agents that neutralize the acids in your mouth. So although you may get a temporary kill of bacteria, the resulting acidic environment allows even more destructive bacteria to form! (look out for our future blog, It’s not just sugar…)
The second reason is almost all OTC mouthwashes have direct acids added to them to act as preservatives (I.E.- phosphoric acid, benzoic acid, citric acid as a flavoring agent, etc.) These mass distributed products need preservatives for shelf stability since they need to sit in warehouses, then at retail stores, then in your bathrooms.
At NY Smile Spa, we utilize the technology of the Caries-Free system. We have machine that can test your level of harmful bacteria and if you are at risk, this system has both treatment and maintenance rinses that can neutralize the acidity of your mouth leading to a decrease in destructive bacteria. This needs to be done professionally because monitoring to measure the results and guide the products that you need is an important part of the process.
Oral healthcare products are so overmarketed and over packaged. For instance, Colgate makes over 70 toothpastes worldwide. All good products, but do we need 70 versions? Crest has 11 mouthwashes! One of the only OTC mouthwashes that has no alcohol, has fluoride and has No acids is Act Anticavity Rinse. Act has 6 mouthwashes so make sure you buy the Anticavity one. Others have acids added. But as mentioned, measuring and monitoring your bacterial levels in the dental office can help minimize your risks. In my opinion, with proper brushing and flossing, mouthwashes are not needed! If you feel you need this for breath control, chew a piece of sugarless gum instead which is very beneficial. The best choice is xylitol gum which is hard to find a quality brand. See my previously posted blog on xylitol for more information.
For more information, you can contact Dr. Michael Krochak at
NYC Smile Spa
30 E. 60th St., Rm 1201