Unless your dentist recommends adding mouthwash to your dental hygiene routine, most of us probably don’t need to use it. If you do need to use it, or if you simply prefer to add the extra sense of protection to your routine, then read on!
It’s amazing the number of mouthwashes available over the counter. With as many health claims as they have colors and flavors, it can be difficult to choose the right one for you. We recommend asking your dentist about which one to use, based on your individual dental needs.
After that, it’s important to follow the bottle’s directions because, despite how harmless mouth wash may seem, there can be too much of a good thing.
It’s harmful if swallowed
Make sure to spit out as much as possible and do not offer mouth wash to anyone unable to spit it out or who might confuse it with a yummy drink. It’s best to keep it locked in a high cabinet. If mouthwash has been swallowed, especially if you’re not sure how much, call 911 or your local poison control center right away.
Too much fluoride
Fluoride is one of the best preventers of tooth decay, and it is an important element in our toothpaste and drinking water. However, too much can cause problems, such as fluorosis. If you do use mouth wash with extra fluoride, be sure you have your dentist’s approval and only use the recommended amount.
Too much alcohol
Part of the tingly sensation you feel during a mouth wash swish is from the presence of alcohol. Not all mouth washes contain alcohol, but ones that do may prove too drying for your mouth.
Some ingredients used to fight bad bacteria (such as alcohol and some forms of chloride) may also affect the good bacteria in your mouth, which help support dental and overall health. These ingredients may also stain teeth or cause other unwanted side effects.
Other general side effects of using too much mouth wash too often can include:
- mouth sores
- inflamed tissues
- painful gums
- decreased taste sensitivity
If you experience any of these symptoms, discontinue use and call your dentist.
Above all, it’s important to note that using mouth wash is NOT an effective replacement of proper brushing and flossing. If bad breath is your nemesis and number one reason for reaching for the mouth wash, it’s likely that you have some other underlying dental health issues that would be best addressed by visiting your dental office.
For more information on mouth wash, we recommend the American Dental Association’s page on the subject.