Mouthwash doesn’t just refresh your mouth. It’s designed to boost your oral hygiene, strengthen your teeth, fend off gum disease, and it may help to whiten your teeth. That’s why dentists often advise that their patients utilize a mouthwash with their regular dental care. It’s an excellent dental tool, and it’s a beneficial product to promote your oral health. Here are a few reasons why you may want to add a mouthwash regimen to your daily dental care routine:
- Food Debris: Swishing mouthwash through the gaps in your teeth and gums can help clear away leftover debris that you may have missed with brushing and flossing.
- Bad Breath: Mouthwash can help cut down on odor-causing bacteria in your mouth.
- Strengthening Teeth: Some mouthwash contains ingredients that can help strengthen your teeth.
- Preventing Plaque: Mouthwash can slow the growth of bacteria in your mouth.
Mouthwash Clears Away Debris
Now, mouthwash isn’t a replacement for flossing and brushing. However, it further clears away food debris that’s lodged in the gaps between your teeth and your gums. Swishing mouthwash vigorously will pull away some of those bits of grime and debris that your floss and toothbrush missed. It’s just one more chance to clear away the food debris that has claimed your mouth as its home.
Food debris can be problematic for your dental health for a variety of reasons. First of all, food debris can attract bacteria, and it can provide the perfect breeding grounds to allow bacteria to proliferate. In addition, food debris can damage your teeth. If you’ve consumed food that’s acidic, for instance, the leftover debris can cling to your teeth and tear away at your tooth’s enamel (it’s outermost protective surface). So give your teeth and gums a break from debris with a few vigorous swishes of mouthwash!
Mouthwash Prevents Plaque
Bacteria causes plaque buildup on teeth. And as we just mentioned, bacteria loves food debris; mouthwash clears away that damaging food debris. Beyond that, mouthwashes eliminate bacteria. There are two types of mouthwashes that target bacteria: antiseptic, and antibacterial.
If you’re using an antiseptic mouthwash (a mouthwash that contains alcohol), the alcohol will kill off almost all of the bacteria within your mouth. Bacteria can thrive throughout the mouth, even without food debris. It can cling to your tongue, your teeth, your gums, and the other surfaces around your mouth. Alcohol wipes out these bacteria, leaving your teeth and gums protected from the harmful effects of plaque.
Antibacterial products, on the other hand, take out bacteria with a different method. These mouthwashes often contain ingredients such as eucalyptol, methyl salicylate, thymol, and menthol which reduce bacteria production and leave the mouth with a pleasant flavor… which brings us to our next point:
Mouthwash Mitigates Bad Breath
Mouthwash targets bad breath. If you suffer from bad breath (that’s not caused by consuming garlic and other stinky foods), then bacteria is to blame. Bacteria produces sulfur compounds that are downright smelly. Mouthwash clears out bacteria and most mouthwashes replace that odor with a fresh, often minty, flavor.
Take note, however, that some mouthwashes are better than others if you’re suffering from stinky breath. Ironically, mouthwashes that contain alcohol may actually lead to bad breath after a bit. Since alcohol can rob the mouth of its moisture, it can leave your mouth drier than it normally is. Normally, we produce saliva which mitigates the production of bacteria. Saliva has compounds that are naturally antibacterial. Plus, we cycle saliva through the mouth and digestive system, which constantly provides sanitary relief to the mouth. When you use an alcoholic mouthwash, your saliva can dry up, leaving your mouth exposed to new populations of bacteria. If you note that your bad breath correlates with dry mouth, consider switching to an antibacterial mouthwash instead of an antiseptic mouthwash. Also, increase your water consumption, it’ll help your body to naturally produce more saliva.
Mouthwash Fends Off Tooth Decay & Strengthens Teeth
We made mention of this earlier, but tooth decay can be caused by plaque and food debris. We’ve already noted that mouthwash can mitigate the these causes of tooth decay, but some mouthwashes actually strengthen teeth. If, for instance, you are liable to have a tooth cavity, your dentist may recommend that you pick up a mouthwash that contains fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral that’s an essential component of enamel, a tooth’s hardest, outermost layer. Plaque and acid can wear away at enamel, leaving your teeth exposed to major damage. A fluoride mouthwash can redeposit this crucial mineral on the surface of your teeth, thus keeping plaque and acid at bay. So keep cavities away with mouthwash every day!
Mouthwash Can Whiten Your Teeth
If you have teeth that are stained by coffee, tea, wine, and other beverages or foods, your mouthwash may help you regain that pearly white that you desire. When you’re browsing the mouthwash section for the right mouthwash, make sure that you take a look at the label of your bottle. Some mouthwashes contain ingredients that whiten your teeth; others are solely used to keep your mouth free of plaque. If you’re interested in the cosmetic benefits of mouthwash, look to whitening mouthwashes that are specifically designed to wipe away those yellow and brown tooth stains.
How to Use Mouthwash
Not all mouthwashes are created equal, so you’ll have to follow the instructions on your unique mouthwash to ensure that you’re using the right portion of mouthwash, the right technique, and washing at the right time. Also, consult your dentist to formulate a plan that’s perfectly designed for your unique situation. For certain dental health issues, your dentist may prescribe a prescription mouthwash. For cavity protection, your dentist may suggest a fluoride mouthwash. If you wear braces, your dentist may suggest a mouthwash to prevent food debris from accumulating around the brace components. Your dentist will be your best source for advice on which mouthwash is best for your unique situation, and how to utilize that mouthwash.
Don’t Skip Regular Brushing & Flossing!
Regardless of whether you use mouthwash, you should continue to brush and floss your teeth regularly. Using mouthwash can be an additional benefit to your oral hygiene routine, but it should not replace flossing and brushing. Floss and brush at least twice per day, and consider adding a mouthwash to your normal dental hygiene practice.
Need mouthwash advice? Schedule a checkup here at Panorama Dental, your Aurora source for dentistry. Your dentist will take a look at your oral health, examining your teeth and gums, in order to determine the best product and plan for you.
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