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Bad Breath and Choosing a New Mouth Rinse

woman holding her nose

Choosing a mouth rinse is like choosing a car. There have always been nice cars that ran well, and did the job well, but perhaps they could be improved upon.

Choosing a mouth rinse is like choosing a car. There have always been nice cars that ran well, and did the job well, but perhaps they could be improved upon. There was nothing wrong with those cars and they would get you wherever you were going, but they used more gas, and they polluted the environment; so we strived for more efficient, environmentally friendly cars.

The ‘69 Ford Mustangs of Mouth Rinses

Listerine and Scope have been around for a long time. In fact, Listerine was originally contrived in 1879 by Dr Listerine to be used as an antiseptic in Operating rooms, and it has been proven to kill germs really well. Scope was developed by Procter & Gamble in 1966 and has held its own in competition with Listerine since then. They both work to kill the germs that cause bad breath (halitosis), cavities (caries), gingivitis and bone loss/recession (periodontitis); however, Listerine uses Essential Oils (Eucalyptol, Thymol, and Menthol) whereas Scope uses Cetyl Pyridinium Chloride (CPC), Sodium Benzoate, and Domiphen Bromide. Commonly it is thought that the high alcohol content of these rinses, 27% and 15% respectively, aids in the battle against bad breath – unfortunately this is not true. The alcohol certainly kills some germs but mostly acts as a solution in which to hold the active ingredients and acts mostly just to dry out your tissues and perhaps even contribute to bad breath coming back faster over time. Not to mention the alcohol burns – just try to hold either rinse in your mouth for the allotted 30 seconds ;)

The Dentist’s Ambulance


Perhaps that is a poor analogy, but the mouth rinse that dentists will prescribe for you before or after surgery and when you have active gingivitis or periodontitis is Chlorhexidine. This is an antimicrobial mouth rinse that specifically targets the bad bacteria in your mouth and has been shown again and again to get the best results over time in controlling the bacteria that cause decay and gingivitis. It comes in both alcohol and non-alcohol versions. Unfortunately it has been known to stain teeth with prolonged use, so it is best used for short courses when you really need it! That said, the stain is easily removed by brushing and polishing and it has been improved greatly in the last 10 years such that certain brands stain less.

The 2012 Ford Fusions of Mouth Rinses

These mouth rinses perhaps don’t give you that sexy tingling feeling of the past, but they work more efficiently and are better for your oral environment and may even leave you polluting the air around you less. There are basically two main groups: the rinses that use Essential Oils (ie. Listerine Zero) and the rinses that use Cetyl Pyridium Chloride (ie. Crest Pro Health, Colgate Advanced Pro Shield). Studies have shown both to be effective in killing those nasty cavity causin’, breath stinkin’, bone harassing bacteria. However, the studies do indicate that the Essential Oils may be more effective. Both have the advantage of containing no alcohol, which means they don’t burn on use, dry out the mouth, or put you at risk (even if small) of oral cancer. Alcohol use is a known risk factor for oral cancers, so it would make sense that it would put you at increased risk of oral cancer by rinsing out your mouth twice daily with alcohol – especially if you already smoke and drink a lot.

Both types have versions that also include Sodium Fluoride (Listerine Zero Total Care and Crest Pro Health Complete), which would be a good choice if you are at risk of getting new cavities or if you have had a few cavities in the past few years. Of course, if you are at high risk of having lots of active decay, these are a good start but you may require a stronger fluoride rinse prescribed by your dentist or even the Chlorhexidine would work well.

If you have a lot of trouble with bad breath, look for a rinse that uses Zinc and Chlorine Dioxide (Therabreath Plus Oral Rinse has these ingredients and more) to neutralize the volatile sulphur compounds (VSC’s) that create that noxious odours.


The Up and Coming Nissan Qashqai of Mouth Rinses

Some recent studies have shown that Aloe Vera and Green tea can also be effective in killing those nasty mouth bacteria. In fact, one study showed that children that drank green tea twice daily had fewer cavities, meaning that green tea has an effect on the cavity causing bacteria as well as the bad breath and gingivitis bacteria. Some green tea rinses are being worked on but for now just drink the tea and use one of the other commonly available rinses too!

Well, that is enough information for now. If I was choosing a rinse I would stick with a 2012 Ford Fusion, I mean, a non-alcohol rinse with a bit of fluoride. However, talk to your dentist and hygienist and choose one based on your risk of cavities and periodontal disease. Of course, should you have any questions you can always comment on our Facebook page, send me an email or call our clinic (780-986-6255). Thanks for reading and happy driving/rinsing.

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