Just about everyone enjoys a fresh, clean mouth – both ourselves and the people we encounter. But let’s face it – that stingy, burning sensation is really a major downside to using mouthwash. You might be surprised to learn, however, that the burning is NOT necessarily the end-all-be-all indicator that your mouthwash is killing germs. In fact, most manufactures include alcohol (the sting-maker) to convince consumers that it is killing germs. To be fair, it is in fact sanitizing your mouth, but it’s also damaging good, healthy mouth and gum tissues at the same time.
Other compounds work equally well at eliminating germs, and don’t burn sensitive tissues. Some popular choices include peppermint oil, tea tree oil, cloves and other herbs can be mixed with water for a homemade variety of mouthwash (although you can find these components in many natural-food store brands). As well, many commercial brands are now offering alcohol-free versions of their mouthwash (such as Listerine Zero).
You can also skip mouthwash altogether if you get a little more diligent about your brushing routine. Bad breath is most typically caused by leftover food particles – either trapped between teeth, around gum tissues, or on the tongue. If you floss regularly, and clean your tongue (either with your toothbrush and some baking soda or with a tongue scraper), you may notice your breath is naturally fresh and not heavily minted.
If you are a fan of mouthwash and want to continue to use it, there are some benefits for regular use. Mouthwash that contains fluoride have been proven to reduce cavities, periodontal disease and dental plaque. It is very important however that you use it as your final step in your teeth grooming process. Don’t replace brushing or flossing for a quick rinse and spit. Also another mistake people use with their mouthwash is diluting it with water. Mouthwash needs to be used at full strength to reap the benefits. If the sting is too much go for one of the alcohol free versions to help lessen the sting.