Mouthwash is often considered an unnecessary part of dental hygiene. The two things every dentist insists on are brushing and flossing, with fluoride treatments a recommended third and mouthwash a more distant fourth. Nevertheless, mouthwash can help your teeth by killing the bacteria that cause gingivitis and tooth decay, and if you find the right variety a mouthwash can also act as a mouth sore rinse.

What Is A Mouth Sore?

Chances are extremely high that you’ve had a mouth sore in your lifetime, although you might not have known that’s what it was or that’s what you would call it. The two most common varieties are canker sores and cold sores.

Canker sores are very common and can show up on your lips, cheeks, tongue, and on the back of your throat. They swell up into a white or grayish spot that’s mildly painful to the touch but otherwise harmless, they stay that way for 2-3 days, and then they slowly fade away throughout the next two weeks or so.

No one knows what causes canker sores. It could be an infection or it could be the immune system going a little crazy, and while it may be linked to factors like stress, a lack of vitamin B12, and citrus juice, none of these seem to be directly responsible. Canker sores have no actual cure, but fortunately they aren’t that big of a problem.

Cold sores have a known cause: the herpes simplex virus. This virus is unfortunately easy to catch and easy to transmit, and once it’s in your system it can flare up on a regular basis.

Fortunately, the disease is mild. The initial infection can cause symptoms similar to a bad cold (which is where the name comes from), but after that the only thing you’ll experience is a patch of small red sores in or around the mouth. These sores are usually more painful than canker sores (for no other reason than because there are more of them at once), and cold sores can transmit the disease, but overall they aren’t any more likely to be harmful than canker sores.

There are other kinds of mouth sore which are much less common except in certain circumstances. For instance, radiation therapy performed on a tumor in the mouth or neck can cause mouth sores thanks to the damage it causes to healthy cells and the fact that it can cause dry mouth. Certain types of medication – including many used for chemotherapy – can also cause dry mouth, and a dry mouth is vulnerable to irritation sores since saliva is a lubricant.

How A Mouth Sore Rinse Can Help

While a mouthwash which uses alcohol may cause more harm than good when it comes to sores, alcohol-free rinses like the Prevention Oral Care 360 Alcohol-Free Mouth Rinse can soothe the pain of mouth sores and promote the healing process. This kind of mouthwash isn’t just a germ killer, it’s also a mouth sore rinse.

The right kind of mouth sore rinse can also help with some of the more serious side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. Beyond dry mouth and a few more sores, patients undergoing cancer treatments are also frequently subject to oral mucositis, a condition where the mucus membranes that cover your cheeks, lips, and gums start to break down and disappear. These membranes combine with saliva to keep the inside of your mouth smooth and protect the vulnerable cells beneath from infections, much like how your skin protects the outside of your body.

While your entire digestive and respiratory tracts are lined with mucus membranes, it’s the membranes in your mouth that are the most vulnerable. When they start to vanish, you’ll experience dry mouth, irritation sores, infections, soreness, and swallowing will become more difficult. Oral mucositis is very common in cancer patients taking chemotherapy, and it can cause complications thanks to how hard it often is eat with this disease.

The Right Tool For The Right Job

Fortunately, Prevention Health Sciences offers an upgraded version of its mouth sore rinse that’s meant specifically for oncology patients: the Oncology Mouth Wash. This mouthwash doesn’t just soothe and heal mouth sores and abrasions, it also provides your mouth with a protective layer of chemical lubrication which can replace that function of your saliva and mucus membranes. This lubrication does wear off over time, however, and so it’s recommended that you rinse your mouth 3-5 times per day, including just before bed.

The Oncology Mouth Wash is even selective about which bacteria it kills, removing the harmful gingivitis bacteria while leaving behind the good bacteria whose job it is to crowd the bad bacteria out. That’s particularly important for oncology patients since chemotherapy kills bacteria the same way it kills your mucus membranes and cancer cells.

Mouthwash may not be as essential for the health of your teeth as brushing and flossing, but it can certainly help. A good mouthwash can do more than kill germs and freshen your breath, it can also act as a mouth sore rinse and even lubricate your mouth and throat when you’re experiencing dry mouth. So whether or not you use mouthwash every day, it’s still worth keeping a bottle in your medicine cabinet.