Does Mouthwash Actually Help Prevent Cavities?

Mouthwash is often advertised as being helpful in preventing the development of cavities, but is that really true? After all, if it was so good at keeping people from getting cavities, wouldn't everyone use mouthwash as a mandatory part of their oral hygiene care at home? If you've ever had questions like these come to mind, here are your answers.

How it Helps

Mouthwash does help to prevent cavities, to an extent. The way that it does this is by controlling the growth and development of bacteria. Bacteria is ultimately responsible for plaque, tartar, and cavities. Plaque is made as a byproduct when bacteria eats carbohydrates and sugars that are in the food that you swallow. The plaque that's left behind hardens and becomes tartar, at which point it can become erosive enough to create a cavity.

Mouthwash stops this process by killing the majority of bacteria in the mouth and - depending on the type that you use - potentially by preventing its regrowth for a period of time. By slowing down the development of plaque, it helps to prevent cavities.

How it Can't Help

Mouthwash is helpful, but it can't do everything to beat cavities. It's not a replacement for brushing and flossing, and it's definitely not a replacement for seeing a dentist. On top of that, mouthwash can't do anything about existing plaque. Plaque is sticky and relentless. While it can be removed through friction by doing things like brushing and flossing, it doesn't typically come off when people rinse with water or mouthwash. Tartar is even more of a problem, as nothing you can do at home can remove it. So if you already have tartar developing in your mouth, you could end up getting cavities even if you're using mouthwash.

Using Mouthwash to Full Benefit

You can definitely add mouthwash to your oral health hygiene habits in order to reduce your risk of developing cavities, but you need to know how to use it the best way.

First off, make sure that you've seen a dentist recently. You need to have your plaque and tartar cleaned away to really benefit from mouthwash. Secondly, make sure to floss and brush before using it. If the plaque is still stuck between and on your teeth, mouthwash can't work to its full effectiveness. Thirdly, don't rinse your mouth with water right after using mouthwash. The remaining alcohol or other antibacterial agent will help to keep bacteria to a minimum for a while, but only if you don't rinse it away.

If you have further questions about mouthwash and how effective it can be for you, talk to services such as Mainwaring John D DDS.