People either love the tingle of mouthwash or absolutely hate it — and, therefore, don’t use it. If you’re in the latter category, you may wonder what mouthwash really does for you, and if you even need it. Well, we’ve got the scoop on this ubiquitous rinse right here.
What is mouthwash, and how does it work?
Mouthwash is a rinse that can serve a few different functions, depending on the formula. If you have a problem with cavities or acid erosion and need to fortify your teeth, a fluoride mouthwash can help provide a protective barrier against those damaging substances. If plaque is your big issue, then an antiseptic mouthwash can help destroy any bacteria left over after brushing and flossing, which helps prevent deposits from forming or worsening. Finally, a general, all-purpose mouthwash can help freshen breath for those who suffer from halitosis.
So, do I need to use it?
Again, that depends on your needs. Antiseptic and fluoride mouthwashes can help provide an extra level of care and protection to your teeth beyond brushing and flossing, but people with sensitive teeth and young children should steer clear of any formula that includes alcohol and instead try one of the alcohol-free rinses on the market. If you really don’t feel you need to use mouthwash or if it really bothers your mouth, talk to your dentist as to whether a regimen of brushing, flossing, and rinsing well is enough. According to the American Dental Association, using mouthwash isn’t mandatory. But, you should still have the conversation with your dentist just to be sure you can skip this step.