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What are the myths about mouthwash?

Everyone knows to brush at least twice a day, most people know to floss and use interdental brushes (although many neglect this task) and many think that using a mouthwash will complete the perfect oral care routine at home. This last part would be a mistake!

Unless advised by your doctor, dentist or hygienist for a specific medical reason (some of which we’ll touch on below), using a mouthwash is not a requirement to keep your gums and teeth healthy. It should not be part of a healthy person’s hygiene routine.

Even if your mouth feels fresher after using a mouthwash, it won’t do much to address the causes of problems like bad breath or tooth erosion. Just as simply pouring soap on a car doesn’t clean it, mouthwash doesn’t remove plaque.

Although, of course, there are times when mouthwash can be helpful and therefore may be a practice prescribed by a medical professional.

What are the different types of mouthwash?

When considering a mouthwash it is important to check the ingredients. It may say “fresher breath” or “whiter teeth” on the package, but unless it contains fluoride, there are few benefits to the mouth.

Antibacterial mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine may be prescribed for short-term treatment of gum inflammation (gingivitis) or to prevent infection after certain dental procedures, such as an extraction, but they can cause staining, so they can only be used for a short period of time (10 days) and under a doctor’s prescription.

It should be noted that this type of mouthwash can also destroy the “good bacteria” in the mouth, which can weaken the oral microbiome and lead to tooth decay.

Many mouthwashes include acidic stabilizing agents to prolong their shelf life, but these acids can corrode tooth enamel, making them more susceptible to decay and causing more harm than good.

People taking some types of medications may experience severe dry mouth and sensitivity and may find that mouthwash helps provide additional fluoride and combat xerostomia.

You may want to avoid alcohol-based mouth rinses, as they can aggravate dry mouth and cause irritation.

When should I use mouthwash?

If you have always used a mouthwash and find it hard to think about eliminating it from your daily routine, use it after meals to remove food particles and as a quick “freshness” boost when you can’t brush your teeth.

Don’t use mouthwash when you finish brushing your teeth, as you risk removing the fluoride in your toothpaste, which is the key element in protecting your teeth.

What’s next?

Masking a dental problem such as bad breath and not following proper advice on teeth cleaning and regular visits to the dentist and hygienist can lead to major problems in your mouth. Check the purpose for which you are using mouthwash and, if you think it may be a habit to alleviate an underlying problem, do not hesitate to make an appointment so that we can help you solve it at the root.

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