How Mouthwash Has Been Lying to Us | Riverside Dentist

toothbrushLet’s face it, some of our favorite foods leave us with some of the worst breath. We enjoy our garlic, onions and coffee, and the state they leave our breath is horrific but completely worth it. Just gargle a little bit of mouthwash & we’re good…right? What if I told you it’s all a myth, that mouthwash isn’t helping you out with bad breath at all? Sorry to have to break the news, but it’s true.

Before I begin, let’s take a quick look at what causes bad breath in the first place. We have bacteria in our mouths, both good and bad. While there are a few medical conditions that can cause bad breath, poor dental hygiene is generally what causes everyday cases of it. If you don’t brush and floss regularly, it is easy for plaque and harmful bacteria to collect and multiply inside of our mouths. That’s where our saliva comes in. We naturally produce saliva to help our mouth maintain a healthy pH balance. We produce saliva, then it breaks up all the built-up bacteria and prevents it from sticking around, giving us bad breath. Couple that with your daily brushing and flossing, and you have a relatively healthy mouth.

Saliva is our natural line of defense against bad breath. Now let’s look at mouthwash. We know for a fact that mouthwash is full of alcohol, some as much as 25 percent. We also know that alcohol dehydrates us. So, by default, mouthwash is also dehydrating. Now, if mouthwash dehydrates us, we are not producing enough saliva. Not enough saliva, our pH balance is thrown off and bacteria is allowed to collect. Mouthwash is actually doing the complete opposite of what we thought!

But what about the claims made by mouthwash ads to “kill bacteria and bad breath chemically”? Well, mouthwash does kill bacteria. It has to with all of that alcohol in it. The problem is, mouthwash cannot distinguish between the harmful bacteria and the bacteria it needs to leave alone because it is actually helping our mouth.

There were once claims that mouthwash could actually replace your daily dental regime. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mouthwash cannot remove plaque. Nothing liquid can remove plaque. It needs to be removed by physically removing it with a toothbrush and floss. If you aren’t doing either of those, the plaque remains on your teeth and the mouthwash cannot get to the bacteria in order to kill it.

So, what do we do when we get a case of bad breath? Forget about mouthwash and use water. Brush and floss a couple times a day, and tongue scrape at least once daily. Your tongue is full of bacteria so a good scraping is pretty necessary. If you are in a jam and don’t have a dental kit around, munching on an apple or a stick of gum will do the trick. Both will help produce saliva. And don’t forget to drink lots of water. Not only is it just good for you and keeping you hydrated, but the more you drink, the more saliva you’re producing. No more bad breath!

If you are in need of a professional cleaning, contact Dr. Gerald Middleton, DDS in Riverside, CA at 951-688-3442 to schedule an appointment today! Or visit for additional information.

Dr. Gerald Middleton proudly serves Riverside, Corona, San Bernardino, Redlands, Moreno Valley, Lake Elsinore and all surrounding areas.