Mouthwashes are liquids designed to be rinsed around the mouth, usually to kill bacteria and/or temporarily numb the inside of the mouth. Mouthwashes are a mixture of detergents, colours and flavours which may also contain some medicaments (e.g., Fluoride, triclosan).
The importance of good oral hygiene can not be over emphasised. Mouthwashes cannot be used as a substitute for good regular mechanical cleaning with a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss.
HOW DO I USE IT? Mouthwashes are usually used after brushing. After rinsing your mouth with water, swish and gargle a mouthful of the liquid around your mouth. Try to rinse your mouth for at least one minute. Some mouthwashes will sting (particularly when first used),however mouthwashes with a lower alcohol content may not sting as much. Ask your Pharmacist.
WHICH TYPE? *Fluoride. Mouthwashes containing fluoride should be neutral (not acidic). These can be used daily and are often best used just before going to sleep so the fluoride can act on the teeth overnight. These washes can be helpful in preventing tooth and root decay and may also help to reduce sensitivity.
- Antibacterial. Many antibacterial Mouthwashes are available. These are designed to kill the bacteria that can cause tooth decay, gingivitis, periodontitis and bad breath. Unfortunately, many of these only act for a very short time while they are in the mouth and have very little long term effect.
- Anaesthetic. Some Mouthwashes are designed especially to temporarily numb the inside of the mouth and some may have this as an additional effect. These Mouthwashes are useful for temporary relief of the pain caused by mouth ulcers and other conditions affecting the inside lining of the mouth. These should not be used for long periods except under the direction of your Dentist or Doctor. These washes do not relieve toothache. Any mouth ulcer lasting more than 7-10 days should be checked by your Dentist or Doctor.
As with all dental conditions your Dentist should be consulted. Your Dentist will diagnose and treat your particular problem. Ask your Dentist if you should be using a Mouthwash and which is the best type for your mouth.
Ask your Pharmacist for advice. 1) There are a wide range of Mouthwashes available from your Pharmacy. Your Pharmacist can supply the type recommended by your Dentist. 2) Ask your Pharmacist for advice before letting a child use a Mouthwash. There are non-alcohol varieties which are more suitable for children or people sensitive to alcohol. 3) See the Toothbrushes, Toothpastes and Flossing topics for more information about how to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Some Mouthwashes (particularly peroxide containing washes) may come in a powder form and need to be made up. Always follow the instructions on the pack exactly. NEVER use more than the recommended dose (a stronger solution may be very harmful). These Mouthwashes are designed only to be used for a short period. Always keep the powder OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. Never store the made up solution as it can become less effective and potentially harmful.
Many Mouthwashes contain significant amounts of alcohol. Because of their bright colouring and nice taste, children may be attracted to drink Mouthwashes which may cause poisoning. It is important to KEEP ALL MOUTHWASHES OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN.
All information has been compiled in collaboration with leading Dental Practitioners and Researchers.
ORGANISATIONS and SUPPORT GROUPSSee the Australian Dental Association topic on the Healthpoint.