dental clinic

Bad Breath and Choosing a New Mouth Rinse

Choosing a mouth rinse is like choosing 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 these 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 Proctor & 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 Fusion’s 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 have 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 use Zinc and Chlorine Dioxide (Therabreath Plus Oral Rinse has these ingredients and more) to neutralize the volatile sulfur 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.

Dr. Jack Gordon

Eating and Food for Healthy Teeth

Bacteria are the cause of both cavities and gum disease.

Of course, let’s not generalize, it is not all bacteria but a small defined group of bacteria that love to eat soft carbohydrate based foods. For brevity’s sake, let’s call these bacteria by a random collective name of “Zeb”.

Zeb loves to eat foods that are made of carbohydrates (“carbs”) – these are the small molecules in our diet that are quickly digested and converted to sugars.  In fact, Zeb loves to eat these foods so much that he will continue to eat and digest any of these carbs for Two Hours Straight after you have passed them through your mouth!  Now why is this a problem? As Zeb eats and digests these carbs he begins to produce acid as a byproduct and releases the acid back into your mouth. 

 The acid is highly effective at dissolving the enamel and dentin that protect and strengthen your teeth and surrounding the edges of fillings.  This leads to the creation of holes in the teeth that we call “cavities”. When the cavity breaks past the first protective layer of the tooth (the enamel) and into the softer and more easily dissolved second layer (the dentin), we then need to do a filling to fill the hole and protect the tooth from further decay and restore its strength – at least as best as possible!

How do we stop Zeb from destroying our teeth?

By eating short meals and snacks, and choosing foods that will not feed Zeb or will even stop Zeb short.  This means not snacking on foods throughout the day and eating a well balanced diet. Ending a meal with a food that will counteract the acid or a food high in calcium will also help.  Eating according to Canada’s Food Guide will be highly beneficial to your health and to your teeth. Of course, you should always default to the diet prescribed to you by your physician or deemed to be medically necessary for you.

Good foods for your teeth.

Foods that are good at fighting Zeb include fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, cheese, and perhaps milk.

However, milk also contains lactose which can be digested by Zeb and produce cavities – this is especially seen in young children that are put to bed with a bottle and is specifically called “Early Childhood Caries”. A similar effect is had with fruit juices which are acidic, contain fructose and often have sugar added for extra flavor. So please, if a child needs a bottle in bed, it should only contain water!!!

Bad foods for your teeth.

Foods that Zeb loves, and should be eaten in moderation and according to the Canada’s Food Guide, are sugary foods, such as candies, and certain breakfast cereals, carb based foods, such as potato chips, breads, and pretzels, sticky foods, such as yogurts, and acidic foods and beverages, such as fruit juices, salad dressings, and soft drinks.  This last group will not only feed Zeb (that guy is such a brat!!) but will also actively dissolve the layers of the teeth away. 

Stopping the Acid Cycle.

A good way to interrupt Zeb’s 2 hour acid cycle is to drink a glass of water, eat a small cube of cheese, or chew sugar-free gum that includes a sugar alcohol such as sorbitol or the Zeb fighting Xylitol!! Of course, taking 2 minutes to brush your teeth and floss will also stop Zeb short!

Wow, that was a lot of information and yet not nearly enough!! Should you have questions email us (, post a question on our Facebook Page, call us (780-986-6255) or just ask at your next appointment!

See you soon!  Dr. Jack Gordon