With the battle to get your cash, the large pharmaceutical companies spend millions of pounds marketing their products aimed at keeping your breath fresh and free of decay and gum disease. Here we find out more about the benefits for rinsing and spitting mouthwash as part of your oral hygiene routine.
So do you need to use mouthwash?
There are really just 2 purposes of a mouthwash. One is to apply fluoride to your teeth and second is to kill off the bacteria that cause dental disease. Most mouthwashes do one or the other. The fluoride found within the mouthwash is aimed at strengthening your enamel and so make it less likely to become decayed in the future.
Anti bacterial based mouthwash acts to kill bacteria on contact. The reason we get dental decay is because the bacteria left on your teeth converts sugar in your diet into acid which eats into the outer tough enamel and eventually invades the inside of your tooth which can lead to dental abscess.
Bad breath is caused by the bacteria left behind after brushing and flossing, which usually stays trapped between the teeth and on the tongue. If this bacteria is left in the mouth it often leads to gum disease. This is the leading cause of tooth loss in the UK. The stagnant bacteria releases sulphurous chemicals, which create the pungent smell associated with bad breath. Mouthwashes that reduce bad breath all work to kill the bacteria that causes bad breath.
How should you use it?
As with all mouthwash types, the longer the mouthwash is in contact with your teeth and gums, the more effective it becomes. Most will have directions for use on the back of the bottle. The most common mistake people make is to ignore these instructions and so the effects of the mouthwash are reduced.
Is there any concerns using mouthwash?
The testing mouthwashes have to pass are the same as any medicine so rest assured they are safe. Be sure not to swallow the mouthwash and if excessive amounts are swallowed then seek medical advice. Some contain alcohol, which means certain faiths may wish to avoid. Fluoride based mouthwashes should generally be used after seeking professional dental advise as excessive fluoride intake can cause permanent damage to the teeth, especially in children.
Whilst the clinical effects of mouthwashes have been proven it is certainly not a replacement for brushing and flossing. This is because a mouthwash will not remove bacteria between the teeth and under the gum line effectively and so should be used as an adjunct to regular brushing and flossing.
So which mouthwash is for me?
People that are at high risk of dental decay e.g. have had fillings in the past or have decay regularly diagnosed should be using a fluoride based mouthwash.
People who experience bleeding when brushing or regularly notice bad breath should be using a chlorhexidine based mouthwash.
It is critical to take professional advise from a dental hygienist or therapist who are experts in oral hygiene before using mouthwash that is appropriate for you. They can prescribe the best mouthwash for you and how often to use it. Despite the temptation to buy mouthwash from the counter, you might find yourself using something that is ineffective for your needs.