You already know that brushing and flossing your teeth are the best ways to prevent oral health problems like tooth decay and gingivitis. However, mouthwash is an additional tool that can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy. Although mouthwash should never be used as a replacement for brushing your teeth, it offers some great oral health benefits, and different types are available to address your unique oral needs.
The Benefits of Using Mouthwash
Why should you use mouthwash after brushing and flossing? Here’s a look at just a few of the benefits mouthwash may offer.
Fresher Breath – One of the most obvious benefits of mouthwash is its ability to reduce problems with bad breath temporarily. Mouthwash, particularly antibacterial options, kill bacteria in the mouth associated with causing bad breath.
Fights Gum Disease – Plaque from food and bacteria that lingers on your teeth can result in infection or inflammation of the gums and tooth sockets, resulting in periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis. Using an antibacterial mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine or alcohol may provide additional protection against gum disease.
Removes Particles Left Behind – Even after brushing and flossing, loose particles can be left behind in your mouth. Swishing with mouthwash can be used to rinse away any loose particles that are still hanging around.
Cavity Prevention – Using mouthwash that contains fluoride can help prevent cavities. Many studies support the benefits of fluoride on reducing the development of cavities and the demineralization of teeth.
Extra Protection During Pregnancy – Periodontal disease puts pregnant women at risk for having preterm, low-weight babies. However, recent studies have shown that when pregnant women use a non-alcohol antimicrobial mouthwash, it decreased the severity of periodontal disease and the rate of low birth weight and preterm birth.
Different Types of Mouthwash
Many different types of mouthwash are available, and you’ll want to choose the option that best fits your oral health needs.
Mouthwash for Children – Establishing good dental hygiene habits in children will ensure that great dental health as they age into adults. Mouthwashes specifically designed for children are made in kid-friendly flavors and generally don’t include fluoride. Fluoride-containing mouthwash isn’t recommended for children under the age of six, since they may accidentally swallow mouthwash. If you or your child only swallows a small amount, it may cause diarrhea or nausea. However, if someone swallows a large amount you should check the label and then call the National Poison Control Center to determine the best course of action.
Mouthwash for Dry Mouth – Dry mouth puts you at risk for oral health problems, such as tooth decay, mouth infections, and gingivitis. Mouthwashes are available specifically for people with dry mouth and are designed to moisturize the oral tissues to provide immediate and long-lasting relief.
Fluoride Mouthwash – Fluoride mouthwashes have sodium or stannous fluoride in them, which protects against tooth decay and strengthens teeth.
Antiseptic Mouthwash – Antiseptic mouthwash is the most common type, and it often contains alcohol. The alcohol helps kill bacteria, which makes it effective for people who struggle with bad breath. However, overuse can discolor teeth, and the alcohol may irritate oral tissues and dry out the mouth with overuse.
Cosmetic Mouthwash – Cosmetic mouthwashes often contain whitening ingredients in them, although there’s little evidence to show they provide significant whitening results.
Mouthwash has many benefits to offer, and it’s definitely a great addition to brushing and flossing. Just remember it should never be used as a substitute for brushing or flossing. When used in conjunction with other good hygiene habits, like regular dental cleanings and other preventative dentistry measures, a quality mouthwash may reduce your risk of cavities and periodontal disease. For the best results, consider your personal oral health situation and choose a mouthwash that will meet your needs. If you’re not sure about the right mouthwash for you, talk to your dentist and ask for recommendations.
Williams & Daily Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist located in North Raleigh, NC with a team of dedicated dentists enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes. Contact Williams & Daily at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.