If many of us are honest, we probably use mouthwash more to stave off bad breath rather than for its cavity-fighting properties! Some people may try to use it as an excuse to shirk flossing (although studies at dentistryiq say that the habit is at least as beneficial as flossing).
But mouthwashes have many more uses than just quick-fixes for bad breath.
There have been many different studies exploring its beneficial properties. For instance, an article by Veronique Greenwood discusses a clinical study where mouthwash had the capability to reduce the Streptococcus mutans (the bacteria that releases acid when you eat sugars) levels. Ideally when streptococcus mutans bacteria decreased, healthy oral bacteria would be able to flourish.
And surprisingly, one study in Melbourne, Australia actually found that mouthwash could potentially help those with STIs:
Rinsing with the antiseptic mouthwash Listerine for one minute can significantly reduce the prevalence of gonorrhea-causing bacteria, according to a new study. Now, researchers want to know whether Listerine can also help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
“If Listerine has an inhibitory effect against N. gonorrhoeae in the pharynx, it could be a cheap, easy to use, and potentially effective intervention for gonorrhea prevention and control,” wrote the authors, led by Eric Chow, MPH, PhD. Chow is a senior research fellow at the Melbourne Sexual Health Clinic . . .
In addition to their clinical trial, the researchers performed an in vitro study in which they tested the effect of Cool Mint Listerine and Total Care Listerine on N. gonorrhoeaecolonies. They also found that both types of Listerine significantly slowed bacterial growth after just one minute.
“The two studies presented here are the first to demonstrate Listerine can inhibit the growth of N. gonorrhoeae in vitro and in a clinical study and raise the potential that it may be useful as a control measure,” Chow and colleagues wrote.
Besides these studies that illustrate how mouthwash has bacteria-fighting properties, there are also products that can be used for cosmetic purposes. For instance, dentistryiq just released a post outlining a new product that not only remineralizes teeth, but that whitens:
Plaque HD Remineralizing Mouth Rinse promotes oral hygiene by strengthening and remineralizing tooth enamel while whitening teeth, preventing new stains, and freshening breath. Formulated without fluoride, alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), or artificial sweeteners, Plaque HD Remineralizing Mouth Rinse features the following ingredients:
• Baking soda to neutralize acids and whiten
• Xylitol, a natural sweetener with beneficial minerals, to help restore enamel
• Zinc citrate to freshen breath and help reduce plaque
• Natural mint and tea tree oil for cleansing
• Essential oils and aloe extract to refresh the mouth and reduce bacteria
For more information about good mouthwashes, talk with your dentist. If mouthwashes aren’t a good fit, you can still reap the benefits of preventative dentistry with in-office whitening, fluoride treatments, and cleaning.