Mouthwash - Is it really worth it?

I’ve used various brands of mouthwash everyday for many years. Some of theme are relatively inexpensive and some are quite expensive.

A lot of them have various health claims, but some only state they a suitable for relieving bad breath. I worry about the ones that don’t contain fluoride as they may actually wash away the fluoride from the toothpaste we’ve just used to brush our teeth.

I assume all of them only contain a few cents worth of ingredients and are marked up substantially so that we think they are better than they really are.

Aldi sell a few varieties with health claims that are similar to other brands, but cost much less. We can’t really compare mouthwash brands as the results of using them are fairly invisible and good teeth and gums may be due to brushing and flossing alone. I do feel we are being conned and are wasting our money buying mouthwash.


Most mouthwash should only be used occasionally and that means maybe once a week at the most. A lot contain alcohol, which helps destroy normal mouth flora and fauna. but even if they have no alcohol they contain anti-bacterial compounds which do similar things. Because the balance is upset then people start noticing bad breath and other issues and think the fix is to wash their mouth out again thereby compounding the problem. There is also some evidence that the alcohol also helps bad bacteria and compounds move from the oral cavity into the mouth tissues.

One of the best mouthwashes to use when needed is salt in a bit of water. It doesn’t disturb the normal bacteria and fauna too much yet the damaging bacteria don’t take to it very well at all. Good brushing and flossing take care of most of the plaque and associated bugs and then a rinse with salty water is a good finish if really required.

Fluoride is used to replace the lost minerals from your enamel that have been leached out by acids in your food but nature gave you the best refiller and that is your own saliva. Saliva contains a balance of minerals to replace the leached out ones but these days we drink a lot more acidic drinks (for example soft drink and fruit juices) and eat starchy and sugary foods that create an acid environment and feed the bad bacteria. So to assist your tooth health having some fluoride in your toothpaste is recommended to augment the job saliva does. Chewing sugar free gum after a drink and/or a meal can help as it tends to stimulate saliva production and thus helps your own body repair the damage and keep your breath fresher.

For those who suffer dry mouths because of medications or other problems there are some special gums and mouth rinses eg Biotene that have similar compounds to saliva in them to help keep your mouth healthier and therefore you happier :slight_smile:

Some reading that might help:

and as a final bit on it from the LifeHacker website in response to a similar question "We presented your query to Dr. Mark Burhenne, a dentist and author with over 30 years of experience. Here’s what he had to say:

Over reliance on mouthwash is one of the biggest mistakes people make when caring for their teeth. Using antibacterial mouthwash can disrupt the normal flora (or bacteria count) in the mouth. What a lot of people don’t realize is that we rely on a healthy balance of good bacteria in the mouth to keep us healthy. Wiping all the bacteria out — good and bad — disrupts that delicate ecosystem of living bugs in the mouth and makes us prone to issues such as bad breath, oral yeast infections and cavities. I recommend to most of my patients that they ditch the mouthwash: you don’t need it. To prevent gingivitis, focus on oral hygiene, diet and an oral probiotic supplement. The mouthwash is a dangerous short-term solution that really has no efficacy at all."


Thanks for the info. I’m going to cut down on using mouthwash now!

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Better still, stop using it altogether. I don’t see the point in annihilating good bacteria just to eliminate some bad ones.


If you must use it, i suggest the no-alcohol but with fluoride version from ALDI at $2.99 for 500ml - about 1/3 of the price from other supermarkets

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Xylitol mouthwash has no alcohol in it and xylitol chewing gum and tooth paste have been shown to reduce tooth decay. They don’t include fluoride, except for some of their toothpaste, but certainly cannot compete price-wise with Aldi’s mouthwash. Used as a gargle at the first sign of sore throat, the mouthwash seems to prevent the discomfort developing. (I am not associated with xylitol products, except for using them)

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I use xylitol gum daily and it does appear to repair minor cavities. Towards the end of last year I was planning to visit the dentist to have a newly formed one filled, but it is all good now.

No. A waste of money. Just clean and floss properly twice a day. Talk to your dentist - he’ll say the same if he’s honest.

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Mouthwash kills both good and bad bacteria. Don’t use it. Same goes for vaginal washes.

If one has various gum maladies or chronic bad breath mouthwash can be part of the treatment.

Same for some vaginal washes re yeast infections, but that would not be one for the dentist :wink:

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Find a partner who loves garlic. Eat lots of garlic together. Live a long and garlicy happy life together. Grin knowingly at people who smell your garlic.

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Why. No dentist would recommend it.

My dentist makes me use Savacol as that is what they use for mouth rinse. I also use Biotene and he said that was OK. I sometimes use turmeric to brush my teeth and bicarb soda for a real mouth cleanout.

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I worked as a clinical supervisor and dental clinician in an “area” of school dental clinics in Perth for 30 years. An “area” usually consisted of 6-7 school based dental therapy centres. 20 clinical staff and met the dental needs of about 15000 patients The standard advice to parents and patients following a surgical procedure (mostly “exo” extraction of teeth) was WSMMR’s which is an acronym I read many times in clinical records submitted to me by my clinically excellent dental therapists to be “signed off” The acronym means “warm salt water mouth rinses”. This was, from memory (I retired last year) is a teaspoon of salt to a standard glass of warm water. You need to swill it around for about half a minute, not too vigorously in the case of an exo as you might disturb the clot. Also good for apthous ulcers. Much cheaper and I suggest more effective than proprietary mouth rinses.

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