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The role of mouth rinse as part of a patient’s oral care routine

Within the context of mechanical plaque removal, there are a number of oral hygiene and health issues that the use of a mouth rinse can potentially help to address.

The use of an effective mouth rinse has proven ability to reduce plaque accumulation,1 with the ability to penetrate the biofilm an important factor in determining the efficacy of a particular product.2 Use of a mouth rinse has also been shown to kill the bacteria associated with gingivitis and periodontal disease.3

Read about the benefits of mouth rinse in addressing plaque or gum health. Or you may be interested in revising the science of CHEMICAL PLAQUE CONTROL and mouth rinses, from their chemical classification to the evidence base for their use as rinses

A common objection to the use of mouth rinses among dental professionals is the understandable concern that it reduces fluoride retention following brushing with a fluoridated dentifrice. This issue has been thoroughly investigated in a number of trials, and it has been shown that rinsing with a fluoridated mouth rinse does not lead to loss of fluoride versus brushing alone.4 See the data here

Enamel demineralisation has a number of causes, therefore its treatment will aim to target a number of factors. A ‘high fluoride’ mouth rinse can increase fluoride levels above those possible with brushing alone5, which may be of benefit in these patients. Likewise dentine hypersensitivity has a number of possible causes;6 mouth rinses that contain compounds that are proven to reduce sensitivity could be a valuable adjunct to treatment.6–8 Read more about dentine hypersensitivity here.

Mouth rinses may also have a role in tackling halitosis and can reduce calculus formation to keep teeth whiter.


  1. Slot DE et al. The efficacy of manual toothbrushes following a brushing exercise: a systematic review. Int J Dent Hygiene 2012; 10: 187–197.
  2. Gunsolley JC. A meta-analysis of six-month studies of antiplaque and antigingivitis agents. J Am Dent Assoc 2006; 137(12): 1649–1657.
  3. Stoeken JE et al. The long-term effect of a mouthrinse containing essential oils on dental plaque and gingivitis: a systematic review. J Periodontol 2007; 78(7): 1218–1228.
  4. Van Leeuwen et al. Essential oils compared to chlorhexidine with respect to plaque and parameters of gingival inflammation: a systematic review. J Periodontol 2011; 82(2): 174–194.
  5. Van Strydonck et al. Effect of a chlorhexidine mouthrinse on plaque, gingival inflammation and staining in gingivitis patients: a systematic review. J Periodontol 2012; 39(11): 1042–1055.
  6. Boyle P et al. Quantitative review of mouthwash and prevention of plaque and gingivitis. IADR General Session March 22, 2013, Seattle, USA. Abstract 2492.
  7. NHS The Health and Social Care Information Centre. 5: Preventive behaviour and risks to oral health - a report from the Adult Dental Health Survey 2009. 2011.