Does Using a Mouthwash Help?

The oral care aisle at your local grocery store or pharmacy is full of an almost endless supply of toothbrushes, toothpastes, floss and mouthwash.  The most important purpose of any oral hygiene routine is to physically remove dental plaque from the teeth, and this is something that mouthwash cannot accomplish on its own.  Therefore, it must always take a backseat to brushing and flossing.

However, it can be a valuable tool in maintaining great oral health.  Mouthwash acts as a great vehicle for applying certain helpful minerals or medications to your teeth, gums, and the lining of the inside of your mouth.  We will break down the most helpful types of mouthwash by the condition for which they are most beneficial.

High Risk for Cavities

When people tend to develop cavities very easily, it could be the result of weak enamel.  This weakened state can be hereditary or the negative side effect of health problems, like severe acid reflux.  Whatever the cause of this higher risk for cavities, your goal should be to strengthen the enamel, which will lower your chances of getting cavities in the future.

The very best mouthwash ingredient for strengthening enamel is good old fluoride.  Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that your teeth can absorb and incorporate into the hard mineral matrix of enamel and the underlying dentin.  Fluoride creates a stronger outer layer of enamel that is more resistant to the attacks of acid and bacteria.

A mouthwash that contains fluoride will usually have the label “Anti-Cavity”.  You should use fluoride mouth rinses after brushing and flossing so that the fluoride can soak into the teeth.  Do not rinse after using a fluoride mouthwash.

Dry Mouth

People who suffer from dry mouth have a higher risk for every kind of oral disease, including cavities, mouth sores and ulcers, and gum disease.  A mouthwash marketed for dry mouth will have two important omissions from its ingredients.  First, it will NOT contain alcohol.  Alcohol has a drying effect on the tissues, so it is the last thing someone with dry mouth needs.  Also, it will not contain strong flavors or harsh essential oils that tend to sting or burn.  Without the soothing, neutralizing effect of saliva in a dry mouth, these strong chemicals can make rinsing your mouth very uncomfortable.

The most readily available mouthwash for dry mouth is Biotene.  The mouthwash formulation contains soothing and lubricating ingredients to help moisturize the inside of the mouth.

Frequent Mouth Sores

If you happen to suffer from mouth sores or ulcers on a consistent basis, you should avoid mouthwash with alcohol or strong flavorings.  A dry mouth rinse would be soothing and non-irritating for those frequent sores.  There are also specific formulations aimed at reducing the inflammation associated with ulcers.  Colgate makes a rinse for patients with mouth sores called Peroxyl.  Using this mouthwash could alleviate some of the pain of a canker sore or aphthous ulcer.

Bad Breath

While there is no magic bullet for bad breath, there are certain mouthwash formulations that will give better results than others will.  Again, we must stress that mouthwash alone will not fix the problem.  Bad breath is the result of collections of bacteria in dental plaque producing foul-smelling gases.  You must also incorporate great brushing and flossing techniques to physically remove the dental plaque.

Adding a mouthwash to fight bad breath can also help.  Make sure to select one that is alcohol-free to avoid any dryness.  There are many different ingredients that marketers claim will kill the bacteria causing bad breath or neutralize the smelly gases they produce.  Some of the more popular brands include: BreathRx, TheraBreath, Smart Mouth, and ProFresh.

Teeth Whitening?

There is an important reason for that question mark in the section heading.  Many mouthwash brands claim to whiten your teeth, and this claim is unfortunately false.  The mouthwash may contain hydrogen peroxide, which is the main ingredient in teeth whitening products.  However, the method of application in a mouthwash is NOT an effective way to whiten teeth.  In order for the rinse to be safe for the soft tissues, the concentration of hydrogen peroxide must be relatively low.

The peroxide in “whitening” mouthwash does have a benefit to oral health, though.  When used as directed, these whitening mouth rinses can reduce inflammation and help patients fight gingivitis.

More Questions about Which Mouthwash is Right for You?

Call Timberlake Dental at 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning or a professional teeth cleaning with one of our wonderful dental hygienists.  We can assess your specific risk factors and recommend the right mouthwash for you.

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