Why mouthwashes are more effective than chewing gums

By Dr Sayali Bedekar Bam

The health of your mouth affects your overall health. So, along with visiting your dentist periodically, home care is extremely important for good oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing 2 times a day for 2 minutes is recommended. In addition to mechanically cleaning the mouth, mouthwashes can be used as an excellent adjunct to improve oral health. Keeping up with this regimen daily and making it a routine habit will improve the health of your mouth and your overall health. Let’s look at why oral rinses are more effective than chewing gums when it comes to overall dental health.

What is an antibacterial mouthwash?

A mouthwash is a liquid product used to rinse your teeth, gums and mouth. It contains an antiseptic to kill harmful bacteria that can live in between your teeth and on your tongue. It is used to fight bad breath and tooth decay.

What is in a mouthwash? And what are the uses?

Mouth rinses containing chlorhexidine gluconate (CHX) are shown to reduce streptococcus mutans and lactobacillus, which are the primary pathogens responsible for dental caries and decay. CHX has bactericidal (kills bacteria) and bacteriostatic (prevents bacteria growth) properties, which makes it effective for the disruption of plaque and treatment of gum disease. Rinses with cetylpyridinium chloride help to reduce plaque and gingival (gum) inflammation. It reduces bacteria related to endodontic, gingival, and periodontal infections. Some mouthwashes contain essential oils, which reduce bacterial vitality, and thickness and density of oral biofilms. Common essential oils include thymol (from thyme), eucalyptol, methyl salicylate and menthol. Other agents used to inhibit bad breath include zinc salts, ketone, terpene and ionone. People with dry mouth (xerostomia) are at higher risk for cavities because of the acidic pH of the mouth. Xerostomia can be caused by various diseases, medications or chemotherapy /radiation treatment. Mouth rinses containing xylitol neutralise the pH of the mouth and offer protection against tooth decay. Fluoridated mouthwashes have been proven to help prevent cavities. They help to:

  • rebuild (remineralise) weakened tooth enamel
  • slow down the loss of minerals from tooth enamel
  • reverse early signs of tooth decay
  • prevent the growth of harmful oral bacteria (bacteriostatic properties)
  • make enamel more resistant to breakdown from the foods and beverages we eat and drink.

What is a chewing gum?

A chewing gum is a smooth and rubbery material that’s intended to be chewed, but not swallowed. It could help protect your teeth and reduce bad breath. Along with some benefits, chewing gums have more negative effects associated with oral health as compared to a mouth rinse.

Side effects of chewing gums

Excessive use of chewing gum can cause pain in jaw, neck muscles and the head. In some cases, the muscles of the jaw can become imbalanced and start to hurt, causing TMJ (temporomandibular joint) problems. Chewing gum can also cause tooth damage and decay. Sugary gums that contain aspartame can cause cavities. You are basically bathing your teeth with sugar. The sugar present in the gum stays on your teeth for a long time, which can cause multiple cavities and oral health-related problems.


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