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

10 Tips to Help your Baby or Toddler have Healthy Teeth!

1.     Brush your baby’s teeth once they erupt if not sooner.

Use a cloth or a toothbrush to gently remove plaque and milk residue to reduce the risk of harmful bacteria colonizing those initial teeth and causing cavities.

2.     Never put your baby to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. Water only!

Baby bottle cavities are the number one reason in Alberta for children to require treatment under general anaesthesia. Milk or juice remaining in the mouth during sleep will cause cavities, and can lead to pain and the need for extensive work. So, if your baby needs a bottle before sleeping, clean their teeth afterwards or rinse their mouth with water.

If you give them a bottle in bed, it may only contain water – its just not worth the risk!

3.     Parents brush your child’s teeth at least twice daily! Until they are 6 years old!

Brush your child’s teeth after breakfast and before bed.

No sense letting food remain on the teeth for longer than needed – they will thank you later. This should never be optional. As the parent, you brush their teeth first or second, after or before they do it themselves, but you always brush their teeth. Crying and tempers cannot exempt them, as once they learn it is optional, they will win more than you, and thus they do not win in the long run.

4.     Toothpaste! Use a rice grain size to 3 years old and then the size of a pea forever after!

Use a fluoride toothpaste for best results, but the simple act of brushing the outside, inside, and biting surfaces of teeth will make a world of difference. Get rid of the plaque and the teeth will remain strong!

5.     Baby’s 1st Visit to the dentist at 1 year or 6 months after the first teeth erupt.

This 1st visit is for education, to help you prevent your child from having significant dental issues as they get older. If they are of normal risk, we can see them yearly and begin cleaning their teeth around the age 2-4 years depending on behaviour.

Rehearse the visit at home prior, and speak about the dentist in positive yet realistic terms. Never impose your own fear or nerves on your child.

Bring them with you for your own cleanings, or for a tour and playtime, to show them how the dentist can be a positive experience. You can also visit our website to see pictures of our staff and a virtual tour of the clinic.

6.     Every bite starts a 2 hour bacterial acid cycle that can cause cavities!

The bacteria that cause cavities digest foods with carbohydrates, and produce an acid that dissolves tooth structure. The acid production lasts for 2 hours after your child’s last bite. For your teeth’s sake its better to eat defined meals rather than snack continuously; It’s important to brush and floss after breakfast and before bed to interrupt the cycle.

7.     Kids want to be big… so let them watch you brush and floss!

Give them a piece of floss to play with while you floss too. They will learn through observation that brushing and flossing is important, and be less resistant to brushing and flossing themselves.

8.     Floss playfully, and use floss holders.

Start young while its easy to get in and floss gently. The floss holders can be invaluable in getting to those back teeth without having to stick your big fingers in their little mouth.

9.     Eat cheese at the end of meals, and/or rinse with water after.

Cheese is full of calcium and fats that can reduce the acidity of the mouth and counteract the acid cycle causing cavities. Rinsing with water can be equally effective!

10. Juice and pop only with meals. Never sipped between meals!

Each sip restarts the 2 hour acid cycle and leads to an environment of constant attack on your child’s teeth. Keep the pop/milk/juice for meals, and water for anytime in between.

Bonus Tip.  Take care of your own teeth, for your child’s sake!

You share oral bacteria with your child every time you kiss, or share a spoon or straw. If you have cavity causing bacteria in your own mouth, these can be transferred to your child’s mouth too. Get your own teeth cleaned, fix decay, brush and floss at home…and in addition to a better, healthier smile you will be helping your child maintain better oral health too!

If you have questions, feel free to call (780-986-6255), email (, or come in for a visit at our family dental clinic in Leduc - one block south of Main Street!

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Jack Gordon

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