Mouthwash: types, characteristics and side effects

Using a mouthwash as a supplement to oral hygiene brings many benefits to the mouth. We tell you the characteristics, the different types and the side effects of these products.

Last update: December 10, 2021

The use of mouthwash as part of the oral hygiene routine is common for many people. Finish brushing by swishing with these products offers the feeling of a cleaner and fresher mouth.

Anyway, you should know that there is a great variety of these products on the market. Even the dentist may indicate the use of a specific mouthwash to prevent or treat an oral problem.

While these products are safe when used correctly, they do not cease to exist. the possibility of a side effect appearing. Read on and find out everything you need to know about mouthwashes.

What is a mouthwash?

The mouthwash, also called mouthwash, it is a liquid solution that is retained in the mouth for a while to clean oral structures or gargle. Bathing the teeth, gums, tongue and other mucous membranes with this product helps promote oral health.

Mouthwashes contribute to hygiene, as they favor the elimination of germs and control bacterial plaque. In addition, they leave a fresh breath, hydrate oral tissues and reduce discomfort in the mouth.

The ingredients with which the mouthwashes are made They vary between trademarks and give them different characteristics. Thus, you can find mouthwashes to prevent cavities, treat gingivitis or even whiten teeth.

Importance of its use

Mouthwash It is a complement to oral hygiene to make it more complete and effective. In no case does it replace tooth brushing and flossing, but rather reinforces them.

As it is a liquid that moves in the mouth, the mouthwash reaches areas that are difficult to access, where the bristles of the brush and the thread cannot reach. Thus, thanks to its action, it is possible to reduce the proliferation of microorganisms and the formation and accumulation of bacterial plaque.

This allows you prevent several of the dental diseases in which oral bacteria intervene, like cavities and gingivitis. In addition, it refreshes the breath and can improve some cases of halitosis.

Types of mouthwashes

Most oral mouthwashes they favor the reduction of germs in the mouth and prevent diseases of the oral cavity. But there are also many mouthwashes that are used precisely in specific situations.

In the market it is possible to find a great offer and variety of these products that are usually over-the-counter. Knowing the differences and characteristics of each mouthwash can be of great help when looking for the right one.

When choosing the one that suits you, the ideal is to consult the dentist to choose the one that best suits individual needs from the mouth. Here are the different types of mouthwashes and when they are recommended to be used.

Mouthwashes are not all the same. There are formulations that respond to different needs.

Regular use mouthwash

This is the most basic and common mouthwash on the market, as its active principles are similar to those of toothpastes. This liquid removes bacteria and food debris from the mouth, leaving a sensation of fresh breath.

Due to its fluoride content, it provides slight protection against cavities. They can be found in different flavors and some contain alcohol.

Antiplaque or antiseptic mouthwash

The active ingredients contained in this type of mouthwash allow it to be very effective in reducing plaque in the mouth. Chlorhexidine digluconate antiseptic is often used, but is sometimes combined with other ingredients such as phenols, povidone iodine, metal salts, or essential oils.

They are the mouthwashes of choice for the treatment of gingivitis and periodontitis. In addition, they can be useful after implant placement or other oral surgery, as they reduce the risk of infection and promote tissue healing.

In cases of canker sores and canker sores, an antiseptic mouthwash can lessen discomfort and speed healing.

Fluoride mouthwash

It is a mouthwash that It contains a higher concentration of fluoride than those of usual use. For this reason, it is capable of protecting tooth enamel and preventing cavities and even reversing the first stages of the disease.

They are useful for adults and children at high risk of cavities. Dentists should be the ones to prescribe this type of mouthwash and indicate to the patient the correct way to use them. The professional must specify the frequency and time of use of the product.

Mouthwash for xerostomia

Patients suffering from xerostomia or dry mouth need use a mouthwash capable of lubricating your oral tissues. In addition, the product reduces the sensation of dry mouth and prevents problems associated with oral dryness, such as the accumulation of bacterial plaque and oral infections.

Most of these products combine minerals, fluoride, and vitamin E.

Mouthwashes for specific uses

There are mouthwashes that have specific functions and are indicated in particular situations:

  • Pre-surgical: the dentist may indicate the use of a hexetidine or chlorhexidine mouthwash before performing surgery; especially before periodontal surgeries. These ingredients with antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal action reduce the risk of complications after the operation.
  • For orthodontic patients: It is a mouthwash that improves dental hygiene and provides extra protection to patients using braces.
  • For dental prostheses: It is an alcohol-free mouthwash that strengthens the gums and mucous membranes of patients who use dental prostheses.
  • Reinforcement of teeth whitening: the dentist may indicate the use of a mouthwash with low doses of lightening peroxides after having performed a teeth whitening treatment. Using the product every so often allows you to prolong the results obtained.
  • Rinses for sensitivity: In patients with sensitive teeth, the use of a mouthwash containing potassium nitrate may be helpful. It is not recommended to use for more than 2 or 3 weeks.

Characteristics of mouthwashes

A mouthwash is characterized by being a liquid solution capable of eliminating the remains of food, germs and bacterial plaque accumulated in the mouth. The addition of specific ingredients allows for a wide variety to treat and solve specific problems.

Another characteristic aspect is that they are easy to use, so it can be used by both adults and children who know how to spit. Although its use is not recommended in children under 6 years of age.

These products are also not recommended for use in people who have a compromised immune system or who are receiving chemotherapy. Although its manipulation is simple, It is always advisable to read the manufacturer’s instructions.

In general, unless the dentist makes a different indication, its use is recommended after brushing and flossing. A measure of the product is placed in the lid provided for this purpose and it is taken to the mouth.

The liquid is kept inside the oral cavity by making movements that allow the liquid to reach all the structures of the mouth. After a minute or so, he spits it out and no rinsing or eating or drinking for at least half an hour.

With these simple steps it is possible to protect the oral cavity, reduce bacterial plaque and achieve fresh breath.

Possible side effects

Some components of mouthwashes can cause these side effects:

  • Mucosal irritation: especially those that contain alcohol or sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), can irritate the oral mucosa. They should be avoided if there are lesions that have not healed or canker sores.
  • Stains on teeth: Some antiseptics in mouthwashes can stain teeth and mucous membranes if used for a long time. It is important to follow the instructions of the dentist to avoid this unwanted effect, especially when using a mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine, hexetidines or peroxides.
  • Stomach problems: Swallowing small amounts of mouthwash can lead to heartburn, cramps, or diarrhea.
  • Allergies: Mouthwash ingredients may cause allergic reactions in some patients. This causes swelling of the lips and gums, burning, rashes, or shortness of breath. In these cases, it is essential to suspend its use and consult a doctor to treat the allergic picture. If there is a history of intolerance to xylitol, flomenthol, or SLS, labels should be checked to avoid products that contain them.
  • Oral dryness: Although there are mouthwashes to improve dry mouth conditions, those that contain alcohol can make the situation worse.
  • Burning or pain when used: Some people report a tingling, burning, or pain sensation when swishing mouthwashes that contain alcohol.
  • Eliminate the healthy oral microbiome: Using a very strong antiseptic mouthwash on a frequent basis can kill beneficial bacteria in your mouth.
  • Increased risk of cancer: Some synthetic ingredients linked to an increased risk of cancer, such as triclosan, are used in certain oral rinses. Its use should be limited to situations that the dentist deems pertinent.
Dry lips and mucous membranes inside the mouth is an adverse effect that can appear with mouthwashes that contain alcohol.

Signs that indicate excessive use of mouthwash

The use of a mouthwash prescribed by the dentist should be based on his indications. In the case of over-the-counter mouthwashes, it is advisable not to exceed once or twice a day.

But there are people who like the feeling of clean mouth and fresh breath that these products give them and use them several times in a day. Overuse of mouthwash can lead to several side effects:

  • Bleeding gums when using mouthwash.
  • Thrush persistent.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Pain or tenderness in the mouth after using the product or when brushing the teeth.
  • Stains on the teeth.

An ally in the care of the mouth

Mouthwash is a great ally when it comes to taking care of oral health. It is a complement to brushing and flossing that it helps to reach places that bristles and silk cannot reach.

But its use must be done with responsibility. Consulting the dentist about the best product for the needs of the mouth itself and using it following the professional’s recommendations will avoid complications.

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