Does your oral hygiene routine end after brushing and flossing? While you are certainly checking off the two most important steps recommended by the American Dental Association, you may be missing out on another beneficial addition. Mouthwash, or mouth rinse, is a great way to boost your brushing and flossing efforts and add preventative profits to your dental health. However, many patients have questions about mouthwash, including how to use it and which type to buy.
Mouthwash, depending on the type, can accomplish multiple tasks, including preventing tooth decay, freshening your breath, reducing plaque and even preventing gingivitis (early gum disease). Your dentist can help you decide which type of mouthwash best suits your specific oral health needs.
All mouthwashes can work to flush out the particles and debris that your brushing or flossing has loosened up. Most of them also leave your breath extra minty. However, therapeutic mouthwashes take things a bit further than your simple cosmetic mouthwashes. Therapeutic mouthwash can be categorized into four different types:
- Anti-cavity (contains fluoride to strengthens teeth and prevents tooth decay)
- Anti-tartar (contains agents such as zinc citrate to break down and reduce tartar build up)
- Antibacterial/antimicrobial/antibiotic: reduce bacterial count which helps prevent inflammation and gum disease)
Now that you understand the powerful benefits of adding mouthwash to your daily regime, it is important to use it correctly. Mouthwash should not be swallowed. You should swish it (vigorously) around in your mouth for about 30 to 60 seconds. If your mouthwash contains fluoride, be sure to save this as your last step – you should not eat or drink (even water) immediately after fluoride coats your teeth so that it can give your smile the most protective benefits.
If you are a faithful mouthwash user, be sure to ask you dentist if you are using the proper type for your teeth. If you’ve never used mouthwash, give it a try. With less than a minute of swishing and you’ll gain a brighter, healthier smile.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,