Mouthwash can provide a minty burst of refreshment that can invigorate a mouth, temporarily relieve bad breath and dry mouth. According to the American Dental Hygienists Association there are some benefits to mouth rinses, but other organizations including American Dental Association and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are not as gung-ho on the product.
In 2010, the FDA sent a warning letter to several mouthwash manufactures in response to a series of advertisements making false claims in regards to the rinses ability to fight dental plaque and gum disease. Johnson and Johnson, Walgreens and CVS were all cited for their erroneously claims and the FDA called them out for not conducting the necessary research and science to prove their claim.
As a matter of fact, the truth behind mouthwash effectiveness is a mixed bag of tricks. When combined with a proper regime of and flossing, some anti-bacterial mouthwashes have been proven to provide assistance to individuals prone to dental problems including tooth decay and gingivitis. On the other hand, mouthwashes that contain oxidizing agents such as peroxide, may mess up the natural balance of oral bacteria and yeast leading to black hairy tongue. Here is the inside scoop.
There are thousands of years of documentation backing up the practice of mouth rinsing. Mouth-rinsing has been used as a way to treat gingivitis since 2700 BC. America only jumped on the mouthwash bandwagon in the 1960s when the products became readily available to the masses. Now the product makes its fair share of contributions to the $2 billion dental care industry.
In its earliest incarnations, mouthwash was created out of variety of ingredients including betel leaves, dill and myrrh dissolved in white wine. The next mouthwash advancements happened in the 17th century when scientist Anton van Leeuwenhoek discovered that dental plaque was comprised of living organisms and brandy and vinegar immediately killed the critters.
For about 100 years, things were pretty quiet on the mouthwash front, until Royal Dental College (Aarhus, Denmark) professor Harald Loe proved that chlorhexidine could be used to reduce plaque. That discovery provided the basis for the first commercially produced antiseptic mouthwash to be invented by a German research. The product has been sold since the late 1800s and is still available today.
Contemporary recipes started to evolve courtesy of the creation of Listerine in the late 19th century. The product was first created as a surgical antiseptic and was eventually marketed as a cure for bad breath. Since the product became the first over-the-counter mouthwash sold in the nation, the market has become inundated with oral rinses and dozens of brand names.
Despite the conflicting claims regarding mouthwash, science has proven that the device is effective in temporarily fighting bad breath. Research conducted by the Cochrane Library (Bahrain) has discovered that the ingredients of chlorhexidine and cetylpyridium can effectively combat odor-causing bacteria.
Like any consumer product, there are some potential side effects to mouthwashes and the manufacture labels are the best places to find out the information. Some potential risks of the products include black hairy tongue, stomach pain if swallowed, tooth discoloration, tooth stains and ulcers.
When used properly, mouthwash can make contributions to oral health, but the product is not a cure-all of dental problems. Dental dentists and science proves that brushing and flossing daily are the best behaviors for effectively reducing plaque. Combining those efforts with regular dental exams and cleanings from a screened dentist is the best way to effectively reducing harmful plaque.