Mouthwash. It’s one of those things that a lot of people use, but don’t really know much about. So when should you be using mouthwash? In this blog, we will discuss the different types of mouthwash as well as when you should be using it.
What is mouthwash?
While this may seem like a stupid question, chances are there is more to mouthwash then you may know. For starters, there are two types of mouthwash: cosmetic and therapeutic. Cosmetic mouthwashes are used to mask odors and improve the smell of your breath, while therapeutic mouthwashes are used to treat various dental problems.
Since therapeutic mouthwashes are used to treat dental conditions, they are formulated with special ingredients such as:
- Cetylpyridinium chloride: reduces bad breath
- Chlorhexidine: controls plaque and gingivitis (prescription only)
- Essential oils (eucalyptol, menthol, thymol, methyl salicylate): controls plaque and gingivitis
- Fluoride: strengthens tooth enamel to prevent decay
- Peroxide: used as a whitening agent in whitening mouthwashes
However, not all therapeutic mouthwashes will contain all these ingredients. In fact, many only contain one or two. This is why it is important to know what dental condition you are trying to treat before using a therapeutic mouthwash.
When to Use Mouthwash
Now that we know what mouthwash is, when should we be using it? Generally speaking, mouthwash can be beneficial for most individuals. However, there is one main exception. Children under the age of 6 should not use mouthwash since they are more likely to accidentally swallow it. With that being said, here are four instances where using a therapeutic mouthwash may be especially beneficial:
If you have dry mouth:
Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition where you don’t produce enough saliva. This can be caused by various things such as: medications, age, radiation therapy, and Sjogren’s Syndrome. Not only can dry mouth cause bad breath, but it can also lead to other dental problems such as tooth decay and gum disease.
Mouthwash can help relieve dry mouth by increasing the flow of saliva. This is because many mouthwashes contain glycerin, a humectant that helps retain moisture. Additionally, some mouthwashes formulated for dry mouth also contain animal mucins, cellulose derivatives, and enzymes that mimic natural saliva. Just be sure to find an alcohol-free mouthwash since alcohol can make dry mouth worse.
If you have tooth decay:
Tooth decay is caused by a build-up of plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva. When plaque isn’t removed, it can harden into tartar (calculus). Tartar can only be removed by a professional dental cleaning.
Mouthwash can help prevent tooth decay by reducing the amount of plaque on your teeth. This is because mouthwash contains chemicals that kill plaque-causing bacteria. Additionally, many mouthwashes contain fluoride, which helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent decay.
If you have gingivitis:
Gingivitis is a type of gum disease that is characterized by inflamed gums. It occurs when plaque is not removed from your teeth, causing the gums to become irritated. If left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease.
Mouthwash can help treat and prevent gingivitis by reducing plaque and bacteria. As mentioned before, many mouthwashes contain ingredients such as chlorhexidine and essential oils that have anti-plaque and antibacterial properties.
If you have stained teeth:
Mouthwash can also help whiten your teeth if they are stained from coffee, tea, or smoking. This is because many mouthwashes contain peroxide, a bleaching agent that helps remove stains. You can find whitening mouthwashes at your local drug store or online.
Just remember that mouthwash is not a replacement for brushing and flossing your teeth. It should be used in addition to these things. Mouthwash is most effective when used after brushing and flossing to help remove any leftover debris.
In this blog, we talked about the different types of mouthwash as well as when you should be using it. When used correctly, mouthwash can be a helpful tool in keeping your mouth healthy and clean. Be sure to choose the right type of mouthwash for your needs and follow the instructions on the label. This will help ensure that you get the most out of your mouthwash and that your mouth stays healthy and happy.
Dr. Gerald Sisko graduated from Ohio State University College of Dentistry in 1987. He is an active member of the American Dental Association, the Ohio Dental Association, and the Akron Dental Society where he is currently holding a council position. He has had the honor and distinction of being awarded “TOP DENTIST” in Akron and Cleveland as well as Northeast Ohio for the last several consecutive years.