Establishing a good routine is important for your dental health. You’re (hopefully!) already brushing your teeth twice a day and making sure to floss, while remembering to schedule your checkup with the dentist every six months. But what about mouthwash? Some people use it to freshen their breath or treat medical problems. While mouthwash does combat bad breath and can kill off germs in your mouth, is it actually a good and necessary part of daily dental hygiene? Below, Flintlock Dental will take a closer look at this minty liquid to see if it’s something that you really need to add to your daily routine.
Types of Mouthwash
When you go down that oral hygiene aisle and come across the mouthwash section at the store, it can be overwhelming. There are so many kinds, and they come in such large bottles! How can you possibly know which one is right for you or if you really even need it? To break it down just a bit, you should first know that there are two basic types of mouthwash - cosmetic and therapeutic.
- Cosmetic Mouthwash - These types of mouthwash are just a refreshing addition to your daily routine. While they leave your mouth feeling tingly and your breath smelling fresh, they really do nothing more than give your mouth a blast of mint. If you do use this type of mouthwash with your daily brushing and flossing, it won’t do any harm. It’s just like adding a spray of your favorite body mist to your shirt as you head out the door, only this one is for your mouth.
- Therapeutic Mouthwash - This type of mouthwash is typically one that needs to be prescribed by your dentist for a specific reason and can have great results if used correctly. Therapeutic mouthwashes are often prescribed for chronic bad breath, gingivitis and plaque, and teeth whitening. Therapeutic mouthwashes will contain ingredients such as fluoride to help strengthen the tooth enamel or antimicrobial chemicals such as chlorhexidine (CHX) or cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC). Not all therapeutic mouthwashes require a prescription, and some can be found over the counter, depending on the ingredients.
What to Know about Mouthwash
So now you know that some mouthwashes are designed just to freshen up your breath, while others include ingredients to solve bigger problems. Next, let’s take a look at a couple of other factors to consider if you’re considering mouthwash as part of your daily routine:
Children under the age of 6 should not use mouthwash, as it’s meant to be swished in the mouth and not swallowed. Make sure your child has good brushing habits, fine motor skills, and a bit of self-control before you try to have them use mouthwash. Be especially careful if your mouthwash has therapeutic ingredients in it or alcohol.
A good over-the-counter mouthwash will have an American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval on it. This means that the company has provided scientific evidence to demonstrate the safety and efficiency of the product. The ADA then carefully evaluates it according to objective requirements.
Although certain mouthwashes contain antimicrobial ingredients, such as CHX, CPC, and alcohol, your mouth doesn't need to be sterilized. If you were to attempt to remove every single bit of bacteria from your mouth, you would be stripping out mostly beneficial and neutral microbes (and damaging your mouth while you're at it).
For most people, brushing twice a day and flossing daily is an adequate routine and makes mouthwash unnecessary, unless it’s prescribed for a medical reason.
Oral Hygiene and Mouthwash
Unless you have a medical condition in your mouth that needs a prescription mouthwash, such as gum disease, extreme plaque buildup, or chronic bad breath, you don't really need mouthwash. Feel free to use that fresh minty mouthwash to give your breath a nice splash in the morning or at night, but it is not necessary to maintain your good oral hygiene.
Making sure you brush you teeth twice a day and using dental floss to get in between those teeth and along the gum line is efficient enough to keep your teeth and mouth healthy. If you start to notice that normal brushing and flossing is not enough, and you think you have an issue that requires some prescription mouthwash, consult with your dentist about the problem.
If you want more information on dental hygiene, check out Flintlock Dental’s other blogs, such as this one that goes over teeth grinding!