Have you ever wondered whether or not you should be using mouthwash? If so, you are not alone. Many people wonder if they should be using mouthwash, however most people tend to avoid it since they don’t fully understand what mouthwash is and how it can affect their oral health. In order to make an educated decision on mouthwash use, here is some basic information about mouthwash and its potential benefits.
What is Mouthwash?
Mouthwash is a liquid available in a variety of colors that is designed to rinse the inside of the mouth to eliminate odors and remove debris. For this reason, it is also sometimes known as mouthrinse. There are two different types of mouthwash that can be used for different purposes. The first type is cosmetic mouthwash, which is only designed to remove debris and cover up the odors responsible for bad breath. The second type is therapeutic mouthwash, which contains specific ingredients that can benefit different aspects of your oral health.
Rather than mask odors, therapeutic mouthwashes are formulated to kill the bacteria responsible for causing dental problems like bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. This is because therapeutic mouthwashes can contain one or more of the following ingredients:
- Cetylpyridinium chloride: reduces bad breath
- Chlorhexidine: controls plaque and gingivitis (prescription only)
- Essential oils (eucalyptol, menthol, thymol, methyl salicylate): controls plaque and gingivitis
- Fluoride: strengthens tooth enamel to prevent decay
- Peroxide: used as a whitening agent in whitening mouthwashes
Depending on the types of ingredients they contain, therapeutic mouthwashes can help you manage certain oral health concerns. For example, mouthwashes with larger amounts of fluoride can help prevent tooth decay, while a chlorhexidine rinse can treat gum disease. Mouthwashes containing peroxide are commonly used to maintain teeth whitening results, however they may be too abrasive for someone with dental restorations. Ultimately to determine which mouthwash would work best for you, it is important to speak with your dentist.
Should YOU Be Using Mouthwash?
As long as you are using mouthwash as directed and not regularly swallowing it, mouthwash is generally considered to be beneficial. However, mouthwash is not beneficial for children under the age of 6, since they are likely to swallow it and have stomach problems. Although nearly everyone can benefit from regular mouthwash use, there are certain cases where mouthwash use can be essential or highly recommended. If you have any of these oral health conditions, then YOU should speak with your dentist about using mouthwash on a regular basis:
- Dry Mouth: also known as xerostomia, dry mouth occurs when there is a lack of regular saliva production. Unfortunately, a lack of saliva means that the mouth is more susceptible to tooth decay and gum disease since it cannot effectively clean itself. For this reason, people with dry mouth are encouraged to stimulate saliva production in different ways. One such way is to use a mouthwash specified for treating dry mouth. Mouthwashes for treating dry mouth usually contain fluoride to strengthen the enamel and ingredients that replicate saliva such as animal mucins, enzymes, and cellulose derivatives. As a final note, individuals who have dry mouth should always look for alcohol-free mouthwash since alcohol can make dry mouth worse.
- Gum Disease: gingivitis and periodontitis are two types of gum disease that can occur when excess bacteria and plaque accumulate along the gum line. Even though proper brushing and flossing are needed to manage gum disease, there are also certain cases where mouthwash can add an extra benefit. This is because the essential oils used in mouthwashes can kill excess bacteria, while also making it harder for future plaque to accumulate. Additionally, a chlorhexidine rinse may be prescribed by your dentist for short-term use.
- Stained Teeth: there are some cases of stained teeth that can even respond to whitening mouthwashes, despite the fact that most whitening mouthwashes are more effective at preventing new stains from forming. However, be sure to look for carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.
- Tooth Decay: tooth decay is one of the most common oral health conditions and nearly everyone experiences it at least once. A good way to prevent tooth decay, however, is to use fluoride mouthwash regularly. This is because the fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel, making the teeth more resistant to decay.