You pride yourself on an excellent at-home dental regimen — you brush and floss regularly and even go the extra mile with mouthwash.
The team here at Peninsula Dental Excellence, led by Dr. Jeff Yoshihara and Dr. Jessie Yu, applaud your great efforts and want to provide you with our two cents about mouthwash.
Given that 90% of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 in the United States have had tooth decay and nearly half of adults (47.2%) have gum disease, at-home dental hygiene is paramount. But what role does mouthwash really play? Let’s take a look.
Mouthwash versus therapeutic rinses
Before we get into the truth about mouthwash, we want to make sure we’re discussing the same thing. When referring to mouthwash, we’re referring to those rinses you purchase in the grocery store or pharmacy. These differ from those we may prescribe to you for targeted issues, such as dry mouth. Those are therapeutic oral rinses and not the same as over-the-counter mouthwashes.
What mouthwash can and cannot do
Now that we know what we’re discussing, we want to make an important point up front — rinsing your mouth with mouthwash is nowhere near as critical as brushing and flossing. When it comes to preventing tooth decay and gum disease, brushing and flossing are the two most important steps you can take (outside of seeing us regularly for preventive oral care).
You should also note that many mouthwashes are designed to tackle bad breath, which means they play more of a cosmetic role. According to the American Dental Association, If you want any therapeutic benefit from your mouthwash, you should look for ones that contain these ingredients:
- Cetylpyridinium chloride
- Essential oils
These ingredients can help tackle plaque and gingivitis to help counter tooth decay and gum disease. The last ingredient, peroxide, can help with teeth whitening.
If you pay attention to the ingredients, you can find a mouthwash to help put the finishing touches on your brushing and flossing efforts.
Other uses for mouthwash
Mouthwash can also play other useful roles, such as:
- Rinsing your mouth after meals
- Removing debris when you have braces
- Cleaning your mouth when you can’t brush or floss
If you’re on a long flight and don’t have a toothbrush, you can use mouthwash to give your teeth an interim clean. Or, maybe you had some dental work done, and your mouth is too sensitive for brushing or flossing — rinsing can help keep food and drinks from lingering in your mouth.
There’s a right way to use mouthwash
How you use your mouthwash also makes a difference. You should swish it around your mouth and force it between teeth to help dislodge debris. When used this way, mouthwash, or water, for that matter, can help in the effort to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
If you have more questions about mouthwash and which are best for your dental hygiene goals, contact our Mountain View, California, to schedule a consultation.