A frequently asked question that has come up this week at Doylestown Dental Group is: what mouthwash should I use? The answer depends on what you are looking for. There are two different types of mouthwash that I would recommend depending on your personal needs. The first thing to think about when it comes to mouthwashes is, does it contain alcohol? For example, if you rinse with some of the Listerine products, you will have that burning feeling that most people associate with a "clean feeling, the burning tells me my mouth is clean." That feeling is caused by the high levels of alcohol in the mouthwash. One of the big debates concerning mouthwash that contains high levels of alcohol (sometimes over 20%), is whether there is a risk factor for oral cancer. The current literature has not been able to make a link at this point. However, if you are someone that smokes and uses a lot of alcohol mouthwash (or alcohol in general), nicotine and alcohol together are big risk factors for oral cancer. Or, if you are someone who has had oral cancer in the past, I would advise against alcohol mouthwashes.
Looking to fight cavities?
If you are looking for a mouthwash to help protect against cavities or you are someone that has a history of having a lot of cavities, any mouthwash that has fluoride is very helpful. A nice alcohol-free example of fluoride containing mouthwash is ACT (Listerine also has an alcohol-free version.) Fluoride provides our best defense against cavities. If you do not want a mouthwash with fluoride, another alternative is Closys mouthwash. Closys does not have alcohol or fluoride. I also recommend Closys as a great mouthwash to put in your water pick (the device that sprays a concentrated stream of water) to alternate with water. A lot of people will consider rinsing with peroxide on a regular basis to either whiten their teeth, treat an infection, or rid their mouth of germs. I advise against this, particularly if you have an area that already has a problem. Peroxide can be too strong and damage healthy tissue. Closys is a good alternative to this as well because it has chlorine dioxide which is also just as effective without the harsh reaction.
What is the bottom line?
Any alcohol-free fluoridated mouthwashes are great to use 1-2x a day for fresh breath and help to fight against cavities. However, if you're looking for a fluoride free alternative there are other products such as Closys.