How often should I use mouthwash?

The use of mouthwash twice a day for a long time may have severe side effects, such as increased risk of high blood pressure and diabetes. Use mouthwash:

  • once a day if advised by your dentist
  • after dental extraction procedures
  • to relieve pain until visiting your dentist
  • in the case of xerostomia

Benefits of using mouthwash

According to the American Dental Association, therapeutic mouthwashes help reduce plaque, gingivitis, bad breath and tooth decay.[1]

It’s estimated that 60% of the US population use mouthwash one or more times weekly. About 30% use it daily.

Mouthwashes can improve oral hygiene. They reach areas not easily accessed by a toothbrush or even floss.

Don’t use mouthwash straight after brushing your teeth. Mouthwash will wash away toothpaste’s fluoride left on your teeth.[2]

Actually, there are two types of mouthwash. Cosmetic and therapeutic.

  • cosmetic mouthwash mainly controls bad breath. But, it doesn’t kill bacterial. Thus, it only has a temporary effect.
  • therapeutic mouthwash has compounds that kill bacteria which cause bad breath, gingivitis, plaque, and tooth decay.

Side effects of using mouthwash daily

But, mouthwash kills good bacteria as well. You better consult your dentist before using mouthwash daily.

Alcohol in mouthwash may increase the risk of certain cancers

First, you may avoid mouthwashes with alcohol. Although, further research is needed, mouthwash seems to be another risk factor for the development of head, neck or oral cancer. Most noteworthy, the risk of developing cancer increases when we combine carcinogenic risk factors, such as alcohol-based mouthwashes, with smoking.[3,4]

Smoking with alcohol consumption increases the risk of these cancers by up to 30 times.[5]

So, smokers better avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol.

The often use of mouthwash may be dangerous

Furthermore, mouthwash seems to inhibit the conversion of nitrate to nitric oxide.

When we eat foods rich in nitrite, such as parsley, cabbage, arugula or beetroots, oral microbiome converts it to nitric oxide. But, mouthwash kills “good” and “bad” microbes, diminishing the amounts of nitric oxide in the body!

In fact, using mouthwash twice a day has detrimental effects on beneficial oral microbiome and eventually on nitric oxide synthesis![6]

Nitric oxide is an important molecule for health. It contributes to weight loss, prevents high blood pressure, controls blood glucose levels, and improves insulin sensitivity.[7]

According to studies, using mouthwash twice a day can increase the risk of developing diabetes by up to 55%. Mouthwash use only once a day didn’t increase the risk of diabetes, though.[8]

Furthermore, according to another study, people who used mouthwash twice or more a day had increased risk of hypertension.[9]

Additionally, diminished bioavailability of nitric oxide may cause obesity or other metabolic diseases, and even endothelial cell damage which may lead to cardiovascular disturbances.[10]

So, you better use mouthwash sparingly. Use it only when actually required. Consult your dentist about the frequency and necessity of the use of mouthwash.

Is mouthwash necessary for good dental hygiene?

Certainly, brushing teeth twice a day and flossing, are the best ways to have good dental hygiene and prevent gum and tooth disease. Also, certain foods may have beneficial effects on teeth. In fact, mouthwash may not be necessary.

But, mouthwash use may be beneficial after dental extraction procedures, such as of the third molar.

Also, mouthwashes containing anesthetic action may relieve pain until visiting your dentist.

Moreover, mouthwashes may protect the teeth in the case of xerostomia. In this case, there isn’t produced enough saliva, which transfers vital minerals to the teeth.

These are only a few medical conditions in which the use of therapeutic mouthwash is beneficial.

Above all, you should always consult your dentist before taking mouthwash.

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