What is Mouthwash?
The term ‘mouthwash’ is actually a broad term used to describe any liquid with which you would rinse or gargle in your mouth for the purpose of killing bacteria and cleaning your teeth, gums, and mouth.
While mouthwash has been used for thousands of years, it has only been researched adequately very recently. This modern research has allowed mouthwash to flourish as its efficacy has made it a regular product in the average household.
The goal of using mouthwash is to help neutralize any possible bacteria growth and to help clean areas in your mouth that you may be unable to clean using more traditional oral cleaning tools, such as toothbrushes or dental floss. If left untreated, the bacteria in your mouth can lead to tooth decay, and periodontal disease, and can severely impact mouths that show signs of irregular dentition.
Of these conditions, tooth decay and periodontal disease are the most influenced by plaque buildup. In most cases, traditional oral cleaning tools are enough to ensure that your mouth is kept clean and healthy, however, their use does require you to learn how to use them properly. It is incredibly common for an individual to brush every day, but still have substandard oral cleanliness because they do not know how to brush properly. When this occurs, it can be very beneficial to have mouthwash on hand to help ensure that your mouth is clean of all damaging bacteria.
Mouthwash can be broken down into several different types, which all belong to either the first-generation of antibacterial agents, designed to be in the mouth for only a short period of time, or the second-generation of antibacterial agents that are able to stay in the mouth for an extended period of time.
Different kinds of mouthwash
Therapeutic mouthwash is prescribed by doctors to treat specific oral diseases, such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, or mouth ulcers.Cleansing mouthwash has less effectiveness against oral diseases, but will usually come with a fresh smell that is designed to give your breath a long-lasting feeling of clean.
Anti-allergy or anti-sensitivity mouthwash has been designed with potassium nitrate to seal the dentine on your teeth for the purpose of reducing the overall levels of sensitivity that your teeth feel. However, this type of mouthwash cannot be used for an extended period of time, so you need to get your dentists opinion on whether this is the correct type of mouthwash for you.Anti-plaque mouthwash contains thymol and cetyl chloride which is used to reduce the buildup of plaque in the mouth, thereby helping to inhibit oral disease and inflammation.Mouthwash used to inhibit dental plaque is slightly different than the anti-plaque option. Instead of helping to remove plaque or reduce buildup in the mouth, this type of mouthwash uses chlorhexidine gluconate to stop the growth or plaque completely. However, this type of mouthwash needs to be prescribed by your dentist and can only be used for short periods of time before it begins harming your teeth.Fluoride mouthwash helps to strengthen your teeth with the inclusion of approximately 0.05% of sodium fluoride. This added protection helps fight against tooth decay throughout the day.Herbal mouthwash has been created using natural extracts from tea. These extracts are rich in vitamins and are capable of sterilizing the mouth and producing anti-caries and anti-oxygen responses to better protect your teeth. This type of mouthwash also contains catechins that can reach places within your mouth that your toothbrush cannot. Once there the catechins are able to prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Advantages of Using Mouthwash
Clean Your Mouth
One of the most obvious advantages to using mouthwash is that you can quickly and effectively clean your teeth, gums, and mouth in just about any location, making a small travel-sized bottle a necessity for the workplace.
Mouthwash gives your mouth that clean, fresh smell that can give you the confidence to speak strongly in conferences, negotiation meetings, entertainment performances, or any other situation where bad breath could mean that your job performance suffers. It especially helps when you are meeting people for the first time so that they come away thinking highly of you, or at least of your oral hygiene.
Prevention of Oral Diseases
One of mouthwash’s best uses is the role that it plays in helping to keep your mouth disease-free. You cannot always grab a toothbrush after a meal, and the longer that bacteria stays in the mouth, the worse it will become. In these situations, mouthwash is necessary to ensure that bacteria left over from residual food in our digestive tract, teeth, and corners of our mouth are quickly dealt with before they can cause issues.
By ensuring that your mouth is clean after a meal you can avoid the possibility of developing cavities, plaque, and oral diseases, such as periodontal disease. There can be no better use for mouthwash than this.
Prevention and Treatment of Periodontal Diseases
In situations where your mouth already has a periodontal disease, your dentist can prescribe a specialized mouthwash that will help your mouth recover and prevent periodontal disease in the future. However, this type of mouthwash must be prescribed and its use must be monitored by your dentist to prevent damage due to overuse.
Relieve Dry Mouth
Mouthwash will normally contain fluorine, which is similar in its chemical make-up to saliva. For individuals who suffer from dry mouth, mouthwash can help to moisturize the mouth and bring relief to the symptoms of dry mouth.
Disadvantages of Using Mouthwash
Mouthwash Can Cause Ulcers
Mouthwash, like many of the products that we use, should not be used in excess amounts over a long period of time. Doing so can negatively impact the flora in the mouth, which can lead to mucosal ulceration, peeling, mouth ulcers, and in rare cases, necrosis.
Mouthwash Can Cause Burning
If mouthwash is used for too long over an extended period of time, some types that contain chlorhexidine can stain your teeth, reduce the effectiveness of your taste buds, prevent healthy saliva excretion, and cause burning in the inside of your mouth. For this type of mouthwash, a dentist or doctor should always be consulted to ensure proper usage.
Mouthwash is Not a Substitute for a Toothbrush
Often times people will think that they can use one oral cleaning tool over another, but that simply isn’t the case. Mouthwash is great when you cannot use a toothbrush, but a toothbrush is capable of removing built up plaque very quickly and efficiently due to the friction of the brush over your teeth. If mouthwash is the only oral hygiene product used there is a significant risk of cavities and oral diseases.
Dizziness and Stomach Pain
Some mouthwash formulas use zinc to help keep your mouth fresh and protect your teeth. However, too much zinc in your system can cause headaches, stomach pain, nausea, and in severe cases can cause tremors in the hands and feet. That is why it is important to always follow proper directions and to ensure that you are using the product safely.
Increased Risk of Cancer
When mouthwash is used excessively throughout the day, some studies have shown that it can increase the risk of cancer. This is due to the amount of alcohol that mouthwash tends to contain. When the alcohol is kept in your mouth for a long period of time it can become acetaldehyde which is toxic to the human body.
Use of a prescribed mouthwash can be beneficial, but just like with any prescription it must be taken according to directions from a licensed and experienced dentist or doctor, or a variety of negative symptoms can be produced.
How to Properly Use Mouthwash
Rinse Mouth with Water Before Use
Before you use mouthwash, you should rinse your mouth to remove as much built up residue as possible. Once you decide to use your mouthwash, try to limit the amount of time that you have it in your mouth to about 30 seconds. This will ensure that you mouth feels clean and fresh, but that you have not kept a potentially harmful substance in your mouth for longer than necessary.
With a Toothbrush
Mouthwash needs to be used in conjunction with your toothbrush. Ensure that you brush after every meal and only use mouthwash as a supplemental addition to your oral health needs.
Stop for One Day in Three Days
Due to the potential effects of long-term use, mouthwash should be used for three days straight and then not used for one day. This ensures that the natural flora in your mouth have time to recover before you use mouthwash again.
Use After Meals
After a meal you should try to brush your teeth. However, if you are not able to due to your location or social expectations, then you should make sure to use mouthwash to reduce the growth of bacteria.
Use Before and After Bed
Mouthwash should be used before going to bed at night, when dirt, debris, and bacteria have accumulated, and should be used in the morning when you wake up, given that the mouth is usually kept closed throughout the night, allowing for bacterial growth to continue undisturbed. This will also help you start your day with fresh, clean breath.