Home Care Part 3 – Rinses

For those people that feel like rinsing replaces interdental cleaning and brushing, I’m here to disappoint you! Although rinses can make a great adjunct to any home care routine, they by no means replace any other part of the routine. Mouthwashes simply cannot mechanically remove plaque or get under the gums the way interdental cleaning and brushing can.

Buyer beware! Pay attention to the active ingredients on rinses. Some available really only provide a fresh mouth feeling without actually doing anything. Ceytlpyridinium Chloride (CPC) is a popular active ingredient in many mainstream rinses. Rinses that have this in them can claim plaque reduction and improvement in plaque-induced gingivitis. The downside to this ingredient is that it may cause temporary staining in some individuals. I personally have used this more than recommended and have never had an issue with staining.

Alcohol is another active ingredient in many rinses. There is a lot of stigma around alcohol rinses. I’ve learned recently that alcohol isn’t necessarily the ingredient that causes burning or dry mouth. The type of alcohol that they use in rinses is not the same kind that you drink and it has been altered to reduce the side effects. Alcohol really only needs to be avoided by people with an allergy or people that are alcoholics (it may act as a trigger to start drinking again). Now alcohol shouldn’t be the only active ingredient. When it is the only one, the rinse is really just meant to freshen breath. You want to look for rinses with alcohol along with essential oils like thymol and eucalyptol. It’s the antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties of the essential oils that provide a therapeutic effect.

There are many rinses that are labeled as “Zero.” This pertains to the fact that there is no alcohol in it. This does not mean that it won’t give you that tingle or sting when you use it. Many times it’s actually the essential oils that can make it intense. If you are sensitive to a lot of rinses, stick with one that states “less intense.” I’ve found that the ones with CPC don’t sting at all. I’ve also found that even “Zero” rinses have given me dry mouth as the essential oils are quite high in some of them to replace the alcohol.

As far as all natural rinses go, I’ve never really been that impressed by them. They tend to not taste that great and they’ve given me dry mouth. This doesn’t mean that they will give everyone dry mouth, I just seem to be sensitive to essential oils.

There are specialty rinses that have higher fluoride or that are great for dry mouth. These are great for people that require their active ingredients. If you’re the type of patient that goes to an office and every time you have a cavity, consider adding a fluoride rinse into your routine. Make sure you use it full strength for the allotted time and do NOT rinse for at least 30 minutes after.

For dry mouth, a great rinse is biotene but I find a lot of patients just don’t like it that much. It does come in a variety of forms and some may like one more than another. Xylitol is another great ingredient to help alleviate dry mouth symptoms. It can come in many forms including gum and slow release lozenges.

When using any rinse, please follow the directions on the bottle. I notice with my patients that an overwhelming majority want to dilute it with water. DON’T DO THAT! They lose their efficacy when you do that. If you find that the rinse you’re using is too strong, rinse with water AFTER (if it doesn’t say to not rinse after) or consider switching to a less intense rinse.

Coming up next – Tongue Cleaning

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