Who doesn’t love that clean, refreshing feeling that mouthwash gives you?
Choosing a healthy mouthwash or mouth rinse can be a good addition to your oral care plan. It can help to loosen debris or plaque from around your teeth and gums.
However, so can swishing with plain water. Also keep in mind that mouthwash is not a substitute for your regular routine of brushing twice a day, flossing once a day and visiting your dentist twice a year.
It’s also important to make sure you’re choosing a product that doesn’t do more harm than good.
Watch out for mouthwash with alcohol, which can dry out your mouth and may increase risk of tooth decay. In addition, an alcohol free mouthwash may be less likely to increase the acidity in your mouth.
Mouthwash, Acidity and Tooth Decay
It is already widely known that acidity contributes to tooth decay.
- One well-known source of acidity is sugar, which is fermented by mouth bacteria.
- Acidic foods and drinks such as citrus fruits and carbonated beverages may also contribute to demineralization, or erosion of tooth enamel.
Fewer people are aware that some mouthwashes, particularly those that contain alcohol, may affect your risk of tooth decay. For example, some mouthwash brands contain ethanol, a form of alcohol that is often used as an antiseptic agent. Ethanol is oxidized in your mouth to form acetic acid.
- In one study, published in the Journal of Dentistry, Oral Medicine and Dental Education, researchers found that mouthwashes containing ethanol became more acidic over time, which may increase the risk of dental caries.
- Another study from the Journal of Clinical Periodontology found evidence of enamel erosion among people who used low-pH mouth rinses.
Choosing a Non-Acidic Mouthwash
So what’s the safest mouthwash or rinse that won’t damage your teeth? It helps to know a few basics about acidity.
- Acidity, or pH, is measured on a scale of 1 to 14.
- The lower the number the more acid the substance, and the higher the number, the more alkaline the substance.
- Any product with a pH of 5.5 or lower can erode your teeth.
- Many popular mouthwash brands have a pH below this threshold, including some varieties of Listerine, Scope and Crest Pro Health.
These mouthwashes can kill “good” bacteria that you want and leave room for “bad” bacteria that cause more acid. Your best bet is to choose a non-acidic, or alkaline mouthwash with a pH above 7. Your dentist can recommend the healthiest mouthwash for you.
- Maintaining a neutral or alkaline pH in your mouth can lower risk of dental caries.
- Alkaline dental therapies, such as Carifree, may help reduce damage from acidic foods, sugar, and other substances with a low pH.
- The healthiest mouthwash for you can also help promote healthy bacteria and minimize acid-causing bacteria.
What mouthwash is best for you? Do you have questions about whether using mouthwash makes sense for your oral care plan?
Contact us at Excel Dental. Drs. Davis and Matthews can recommend the right mouthwash to keep you Smiling Healthy!