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A Guide to Mouthwash
What role can mouthwashes play in your oral hygiene programme? The majority of dentists and oral hygienists view mouthwashes as an ‘added extra’. This means that using a mouthwash may help to keep your breath fresh and to remove food debris. However, a mouthwash is not a necessary part of your daily regimen. It should be sufficient to clean and floss your teeth if you want to keep them healthy.
However, many of us enjoy using a mouthwash, especially in the morning. It freshens our mouths, freshens our breath and wakes us up. But are there really any dental benefits to mouthwashes? There are so many products on the market, with such variations in cost, how do you know what works and what doesn’t? It isn’t easy.
Various different types of mouthwash make various different claims. Some claim to freshen your breath. Some claim to fight bacteria. Some claim to stop plaque from building up. So how effective are they? And how do you choose the product that is right for you?
Broadly speaking, there are three types of mouthwash. The first group could be called cosmetic mouthwashes and they are designed purely to combat bad breath. They may freshen your mouth, mask stale odours and make your teeth feel clean, but they rarely have the power to combat bacteria or plaque. Therefore, they do not protect your teeth against decay.
The second types of mouthwash available are antiseptic mouthwashes. These are mouthwashes that claim to do more than simply mask bad breath. They actively fight plaque and protect your teeth against decay. Most dentists will agree that these kinds of mouthwashes work to varying degrees – some research has shown that mouthwash can reduce plaque by up to 25%. However, this kind of mouthwash should never be used as a substitute for proper brushing and flossing of your teeth.
Finally, flouride mouthwashes are also available for people who are particularly susceptible to tooth decay. Most of us get the flouride we need from drinking water and flouride toothpastes. Therefore, you should never add extra flouride supplements to your oral health regimen without consulting your dentist first.
Before settling on your choice of mouthwash, therefore, you should consider what exactly you require. Your dental practice may sell a particular brand which it endorses, so it is definitely worth asking your dentist what their professional opinion is.
One other issue to be aware of is that many mouthwashes contain alcohol. This is a controversial issue for two reasons. The first is that many mouthwashes are manufactured in bright colours, with flavours which mask the antiseptic and alcohol in them. People argue that this makes them more appealing to children and toddlers who may want to try and drink them. Of course, the alcohol content makes these mouthwashes particularly dangerous for children and they must be kept out of reach. Alternatively, many parents simply choose not to use mouthwashes which contain alcohol as they put the health of their children first.
The second controversial issue about alcohol in mouthwash is that some research has suggested that it can be a contributing cause to mouth cancer. Some mouthwash can contain as much as 25% alcohol and as recently as January 2009, The Telegraph newspaper was reporting on recent research which concluded that the increased possibility of cancer after using certain types of mouthwashes was four or fivefold. It is this kind of research that leads most dentists to reiterate that, if you do not wish to use mouthwash, you should not need to. Brushing, flossing and visiting your dentist should be adequate protection.
Increasing, there are more and more alcohol-free mouthwashes on the market which do not have the association with mouth cancer. But it is still important to remember that you need to think carefully about why you want to use mouthwash. If you are using a mouthwash to combat halitosis or mouth ulcers, for example, the mouthwash could simply be masking a more serious, underlying problem. Therefore, it is essential that you also consult your dentist to ensure that there are no other health issues affecting to your oral hygiene.
Which mouthwash should I use?
20th May 2015 by James Goolnik
Combined with other forms of dental hygiene, mouthwashes are commonly used as part of a daily oral care regimen. Not only do they freshen breath, they can help prevent plaque, cavities, gingivitis, and other gum diseases. However, mouthwash is used for prevention, not a cure, and it is important to remember that the use of a mouthwash is never a substitute for regular brushing and flossing. To get the full benefits of your toothpaste and mouthwash, it is best to wait at least 30 minutes after brushing before using your mouthwash.
There are many different types of mouthwashes available on the market today and it can be difficult to choose which one is best for you. The choice can be discussed with your Bow Lane dentist or hygienist depending on your individual oral health needs. Our Central London-based hygienists have produced this guide:
Cosmetic mouthwashes e.g. the mouth rinse at the dentist.
These are ideal for eliminating odours that linger after eating and drinking certain foods, but they do not offer any health benefits.
Natural mouthwashes e.g. warm saltwater
A home-made mouthwash containing warm water and 2 teaspoons of salt can be useful following a tooth extraction or to treat a minor infection or injury.
Fluoride mouthwashes e.g Fluorigard
If you are prone to cavities, sodium fluoride provides a layer of protection over the teeth, making them more resistant to decay. It also helps to strengthen enamel, maintain good dental hygiene, and keep your teeth strong.
Alcohol mouthwashes e.g. Listerine
Alcohol in mouthwash works as an antiseptic by killing germs and some viral infections. People with dry mouth should avoid alcohol-based mouthwash because it can make the problem worse.
Antibacterial mouthwashes e.g. Corsodyl
These contain chlorhexidine gluconate which fights gum disease and other infections by stopping the growth of bacteria that can lead to gingivitis and tooth decay. Most mouthwash products contain at least trace amounts of these antibacterials. The use of chlorhexidine over a long period of time can cause brown staining on the teeth but these can easily be removed by your dental hygienist.
In some cases, prescription mouthwashes are necessary to treat patients with mouth ulcers, have undergone periodontal surgery or to treat inflammation caused by cancer treatment. These speciality mouthwashes should not be used outside of their intended use as some of them contain antibiotics or local anaesthesia. The majority of mouthwashes require no prescription.
At your next visit with your city dentist or city hygienist ask them which they would recommend for YOUR mouth. Thanks to our dental hygienist Renate Putrus for writing this blog.
Your Guide to Dental Care Products
IN THIS ARTICLE
- Manual vs. Powered Toothbrushes
- How Do I Choose a Powered Toothbrush?
- Water Picks
- Mouthwashes and Rinses
With so many dental care products on the market today, how do you know which to choose? From toothpastes to toothbrushes to mouthwashes, get the facts you need to make decisions about your oral health.
The best strategy for selecting a toothpaste is to ask your dental hygienist or dentist to recommend a product.
Then look for those with the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. This means the product has met ADA criteria for safety and effectiveness and that packaging and advertising claims are scientifically supported. Some manufacturers choose not to seek ADA approval. Remember, the seal means the ADA agrees it is safe and effective, but it doesn’t evaluate or endorse their performance.
Always pick a toothpaste with fluoride to prevent cavities. After that, it’s a matter of personal choice. Use the one that tastes and feels best. Gel or paste, wintergreen or spearmint, all work alike. If an ingredient bothers you, or if your teeth are sensitive, try another product. If the problem continues, see your dentist.CONTINUE READING BELOW
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Bristles are a main factor in toothbrush choice. Most dentists recommend soft bristles, for adults and kids, especially if you have sensitive teeth or gums. Hard or stiff bristles are not more effective at removing plaque or stains and can actually cause damage to your teeth and gums.
Ask your dentist which features and bristle head design will work best in your mouth.
Replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Get a new one sooner if the brush looks worn or frayed. Bristles that fan out or spread mean it’s time to for a new one.
Manual vs. Powered Toothbrushes
Are you better off with a powered (electric or sonic) toothbrush or a manual model? It’s a draw. The key to good oral hygiene is correct and effective use of the brush. A powered toothbrush makes it easier to do the job correctly. Other advantages include:
- Easy to use if you:
- An electric toothbrush can be fun to use, and you might brush more often or longer as a result.
- They may improve oral health. At least one study has shown that the long-term (4 to 6 month) use of powered toothbrushes lowered the amount of plaque on the teeth of people with periodontal disease.
They minimize or eliminate tooth-staining. The scrubbing effect of powered toothbrushes may be superior to manual toothbrushes in possibly reducing or even totally removing surface stains on teeth.