One of the most misused and over advertised dental care products is mouthwash. Many dentists recommend adding mouthwash to a patient’s dental care routine as an antibacterial agent. By rinsing or gargling mouthwash in the mouth for a certain length of time, oral bacteria can be greatly reduced.
Marketed with Several Uses in Mind
As mentioned above, mouthwash is conceived as a highly effective antibacterial agent, meaning it neutralizes the bacteria that causes cavities as well as gingivitis, halitosis (bad breathe), and any infections from these conditions. Since the first one was commercially offered in the late 1800s, new formulas have curbed to people with special circumstances such as braces or tooth sensitivity. Several other components in the newest versions of mouthwash also claim to offer numbing for dental pain and dental fungal growth prevention.
How to Use a Mouthwash
While most mouthwash bottles offer instructions, it’s important to discuss its use with your dentist so you can be sure you’re using the best type of your mouth’s particular needs. To use, place about half an ounce (or the recommended line on the cup often provided with the wash) in your mouth and use your cheeks to swish it around both dental arcs for about thirty seconds. If you’re dentist has recommended gargling to reduce inflammation in the back of your mouth, tongue, and throat, tilt your head backwards and hold it there while exhaling to create bubbles in the liquid. Once you’ve completed the swishing or gargling, spit it (and the bacteria it’s collected) out the mouth and into a sink. Thirty seconds is the norm, but the longer you rinse, the more bacteria you can clear out of the oral cavity.
It’s important to note that you should not ever swallow the mouthwash after rinsing; it is intended as a rinse only and should be spit out. This is especially important for parents to stress to their children since some of the ingredients in mouthwash, namely alcohol and fluoride, can have harmful effects when ingested in large qualities.
Two Major Misuses of Mouthwash
Most people lump mouthwash rinsing or gargling into their oral hygiene maintenance, choosing to brush, floss and rinse at once. However, this order isn’t recommended by dental experts. If mouthwash is used immediately after brushing, the protective fluoride layer that most toothpaste apply to your teeth will be rinsed away by the mouthwash. Instead, dentists and hygienists encourage patients to rinse prior to brushing or to rinse separate from brushing and flossing entirely. Also, don’t follow your mouthwash swish with a mouthful of water, as the H2O tends to literally wash away the mouthwash’s effectiveness.
Another thing to note is that mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing and flossing your teeth. The action of rubbing off plaque and tartar is necessary, so opting only for mouth washing may reduce bacteria, but it will not eliminate what is stuck fast to your teeth and the problems they create. Always brush and floss, and only use mouthwash as an added layer of cleanliness and protection for your teeth.
Primary Ingredients of Mouthwash
Though the fronts of mouthwash bottles look different, the active ingredients tend to be the same. They include alcohol, chlorhexidine gluconate (antibacterial and anti-plaque), arginine (anti-sensitivity and antibacterial) paired with triclosan, lignocaine for anesthetic purposes, and Hydrogen Peroxide as a triple hit against bacteria, plaque, and staining. Water, sorbitol, and saccharine are a few other ingredients to help with liquid consistency and color. In addition, flavoring agents such as menthol, bubblegum, and cinnamon are added to make the product more appealing and breathe smelling fresh.
The Debate on Alcohol
One major concern in recent decades has been the necessity and dangers of the high alcohol content in mouthwash. Some formulas contain up to 27% alcohol by volume. This poses a danger to children who swallow too much of it, as well as actually aiding the growth of anaerobic bacterial that causes bad breathe rather than prevents it. Some have also speculated that alcohol could be carcinogenic agent, but that has yet to be scientifically verified.
Should You Use Mouthwash?
If you’re considering grabbing a bottle of mouthwash and adding it to your oral health routine, be sure to consult your dentist first. Just as there are a variety of different types of mouths and oral issues, there are mouthwashes that can both help and hinder them to high quality of health. Your dentist can recommend the best options and give you tips on how to make the most out of using it.