Are you afraid of bad breath? Mouthwashes can help. But beware of mouthwashes that contain alcohol – especially for children. Mouthwashes are used for a number of reasons:
- To freshen breath and combat halitosis (bad breath)
- To help prevent or control tooth decay and cavities
- To prevent or reduce plaque (a thin layer of bacteria that forms on teeth) or gingivitis (gum disease in its early stages)
You can get most mouthwashes over the counter, but some need prescriptions – depending on the severity of your oral health problems. Cosmetic mouthwashes help control bad breath, but they don’t attack the bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities. Therapeutic mouthwashes can help reduce plaque, gingivitis, cavities and bad breath.
People who use these mouthwashes may experience side effects, such as a change in taste sensation or burning sensations on the tongues, cheeks and gums. You may also experience sodium retention, root sensitivity and stained teeth.
Use caution with mouthwashes that contain alcohol.
Some antiseptic mouthwashes contain significant amounts of alcohol (18-26%) so children should avoid them. Children shouldn’t swallow mouthwash, so make sure they rinse their mouths correctly.
Don’t forget to brush and floss your teeth before you use a mouthwash. Use the amount of rinse specified on the container. Be sure to check the packaging to determine the ingredients and amount of alcohol before you give a mouthwash to children.
Learn more about mouthwashes and how they can help improve oral health.