Peridex Mouthwash: Is It for You?

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If you or someone close to you has been prescribed Peridex mouthwash, chances are it's to treat gum disease. This prescription mouthwash contains a chemical called chlorhexidine, which destroys harmful mouth bacteria. Colgate's PerioGard oral rinse is a prescription-strength antimicrobial rinse to treat gingivitis and promote the healing of inflamed gums.

What Peridex Mouthwashes Treat?

Peridex is used to treat gingivitis, another name for mild gum disease. Symptoms include bad breath and gum redness, swelling and bleeding. While brushing your teeth and gums twice per day and flossing once per day help prevent gum disease, a prescription mouthwash may help reduce the symptoms when you're already in the early stages.

However, as the Mayo Clinic explains, Peridex isn't suitable for treating periodontitis, which is severe gum disease. When gum disease reaches an advanced stage, it causes more problematic symptoms such as receding gums, pus, tooth sensitivity and tooth loosening.

How Does It Work?

When you rinse with Peridex, the active ingredient chlorhexidine immediately begins to destroy harmful mouth bacteria. What's more, the effect continues after you spit out the mouthwash. The FDA states that after six months of use, levels of mouth bacteria that were tested reduced up to 97 percent. The FDA also explains that 30 percent of the chlorhexidine remains in the mouth after rinsing, so the chemical continues to destroy bacteria between uses.

Are There Any Side Effects?

Peridex mouthwash has a few possible side effects, though they are minor. The Mayo Clinic lists them as a change in taste, increase in tartar build-up, and staining of the teeth, gums and any dental appliances. When tooth fillings are stained, the staining can be challenging to remove.

Severe side effects are rare. Some people experience swollen neck glands and irritation in the mouth and tip of the tongue. The most rare side effects occur due to an allergic reaction to the mouthwash and include skin rashes, hives, itching, swelling of the face and difficulty breathing.

Check with your physician or dentist if you experience any side effects from using a chlorhexidine mouthwash. They may be able to offer a different solution.

Is It Safe?

Only a physician or dentist can prescribe Peridex mouthwash. However, under the guidance of a healthcare professional, the product is safe when used as directed. Don't use Peridex for longer than six months without consulting your dentist or doctor. If a small child accidentally drinks more than 4 ounces of the mouthwash, seek medical attention.

Though the mouthwash is effective at killing mouth bacteria in mild cases of gum disease, it's not a substitute for regular brushing and flossing for total oral health. Gum disease is a serious dental condition that can lead to oral pain, bleeding and tooth loss, so take steps to avoid it. Along with regular flossing, try brushing with a toothbrush like the Colgate Wave Gum Comfort, which has curved, soft outer bristles to clean gum margin and firmer inner bristles to effectively clean teeth.

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Choosing Mouthwashes and Mouth Rinses

Mouthwash and fluoride mouth rinse are two different products. Here are some of the differences:

  • Antibacterial mouthwashes – these mouthwashes are more effective in controlling plaque than fluoride rinses, and also freshen breath.

  • Fluoride rinses – these rinses coat the teeth with fluoride to strengthen teeth to prevent tooth decay and cavities. They also freshen breath.