We all know that flossing and brushing twice a day is essential for keeping your teeth clean and healthy. But what about mouthwash? Should it be a necessary part of your daily oral hygiene routine?
1. Mouthwash Basics
Mouthwashes are generally antiseptic rinses that are used to decrease the microbial load in your mouth and reduce bacteria and plaque.
The main purpose of mouthwash is to freshen your breath (not to clean your teeth) and help prevent cavities.
It is important to note that mouthwash should not be seen as a replacement for brushing and flossing. Mouthwash should only be used as a follow-up to brushing and flossing twice daily.
2. Types of Mouthwash
- Antiseptic Mouthwash: Antiseptic mouthwashes will almost always contain alcohol, which works to kill the bacteria and plaque building up in your mouth (these can also cause bad breath and lead to gum diseases)
- Alcohol-Free Mouthwash: Alcohol-free mouthwashes are ideal for those with sensitive mouths or those who don’t want to include alcohol as part of their daily dental routines. Alcohol-free rinses are also recommended for children and teenagers who may be prone to swallowing the rinse, instead of spitting it out
- Fluoride Mouthwash: Most mouthwashes contain fluoride, which is beneficial for protecting your teeth against acids and strengthening enamel. If you do need to use a mouthwash, a fluoride one is highly recommended
3. Do You Really Need Mouthwash?
It isn’t necessary to use mouthwash every day as part of your oral hygiene routine. Like any other type of medication, using mouthwash should be advised by your dentist.
While brushing and flossing is vital, mouthwash should only be used to combat a specific dental problem or need that you might be facing – such as bad breath, infections and gingivitis.
Your dentist will advise you if or when you need to use a mouthwash and what type of mouthwash will be most suitable.
4. Should I Spit or Swallow the Mouthwash?
If your dentist has advised you to use mouthwash, you should spit it out after each rinse. Swallowing excessive amounts of mouthwash, especially those that contain alcohol, can be harmful.
5. Mouthwashes & Other Diseases?
Some studies have claimed that there is a link between using alcohol-containing mouthwashes and diseases, like mouth cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure.
While some individuals (like smokers or drinkers) may be more susceptible to these diseases than others, these studies are largely inconclusive and don’t really prove that mouthwash is the cause of these illnesses. As always, you should use mouthwash as advised by your dentist.
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