Acidic Mouthwashes Are Eroding Your Teeth

As a dentist in McKinney, I get asked this question many times: “What’s the best mouthwash to use?” My answer is always “None of them.”  This is usually followed by a dumbfounded look and a small stretch of silence.  I usually break the silence and follow up with a question and ask why they use mouthwashes in the first place.  The usual answer is to “kill bacteria.”

But what people don’t realize is that it’s actually very normal to have millions of bacteria in your mouth.  In fact, it’s an important part of your oral and digestive health. But nonetheless, people always ask if mouthwashes are the best way of killing oral bacteria.  Unfortunately, the answer to that is “No.”  And it’s because the vast majority of over-the-counter mouthwashes are highly acidic.

“So, what does it matter if mouthwashes are acidic?” Well, here goes:

 1. The acidity in your mouthwash is eroding your enamel.

The calcium crystal in your enamel (the outer white part of your teeth) dissolves at a pH of 5.5.  Most popular brands like Listerine, Scope, and Crest Pro Health are at pH 5.5 or below.  Most surprising is that the Natural Dentist is much more acidic than the big brands falling in at pH 3.3.

Do an experiment. For demonstration purposes only, try brushing with these mouthwashes for 30 seconds instead of rinsing.   You’ll immediately notice that your teeth will feel rougher than before.  That’s because you just acid etched your teeth.

2.  Acidic mouthwashes screen out for bad bacteria in the mouth.

When you use an acidic mouthwash to indiscriminately kill all oral bacteria, you disrupt the pH balance of your mouth.  As a result, you end up creating a “bacteria-free” environment that is acidic.  Unfortunately, this screens out for the bad, acid-tolerant bacteria like S. mutans and L. bacillus (cavities causing bacteria). Not good if you’ve been prone to cavities.

So, what’s the best mouthwash to use?
Therabreath.  It has an alkaline pH to rebalance the mouth, an oxidizer to break up biofilm and kill bacteria, and it’s alcohol free so it doesn’t dry or burn your mouth! You can find it pretty much anywhere mouthwashes are sold.

A little heads up.
Therabreath is unlike your typical mouthwash.  I admit that my first experience with it was strange because I was expecting a huge burn and a blast of “minty freshness.”  I got none of that.  With Therabreath, I equate the taste to “swimming pool water that is lightly peppermint flavored.”  It’s very subtle on how its benefits are delivered to your mouth, but I trust it enough to use it for myself everyday.

Until next time!  Have a nice day!

Signature-250Dr. Anthony Do

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Non-Fluoride Mouthwashes
Therabreath Oral RInse8.5
Listerine Whitening Vibrant White Pre-Brush Rinse5.8
Crest 3D White Multi-Care Whitening Rinse5.4
Scope Mouthwash5.5
Biotene Mouthwash (older formula)5.4
Biotene Mouthwash (Improved pH)~6.5
Chlorhexidine Alcohol-Free5.1
Smart Mouth Mouthwash4.4
Breath Rx Mouth Rinse4.6
Listerine Zero4.3
Listerine Antiseptic Mouth Rinse4.2
Peroxyl Antiseptic Oral Cleanser3.9
The Natural Dentist Anti-Gingivitis Rinse3.3
Tom’s of Maine Wicked Fresh Mouthwash3.1
Fluoride Mouthwashes
Carifree Maintenance Rinse8.1
ACT Restoring Mouthwash6.6
Smile Guard Orthodontic Brace Relief Rinse6.1
Crest Pro Health Oral Rinse4.7
Listerine Total Care Anticavitiy Mouthwash3.5
Everyday Acidic Liquids
Hydrogen Peroxide Topical Solution4.4
Sports Drinks~3.3
Diet Soda~3.2
Lemon Juice2.2
Source: pH level referenced from manufacturer’s Material Safety Data Sheet at and Dr. Scott Frey