Should You Use a Mouthwash?

use of mouthwash for the health of teeth and gums If you’re here in our Pound Ridge Cosmetic Dentistry blog, you may have seen our January entry on why bad breath can be a thing.

Obviously, a mouthwash would come in handy in those scenarios. So, how about for March’s two blogs we get into mouthwashes and why you should make one a part of your oral hygiene plan.

While mouthwash can seem like a short-term breath freshener, there can be more to them than you think. That’s why Dr. Smith and Dr. Feng are believers in the right mouthwash as a part of your home hygiene plan.

Mouthwash is mouthwash, right?

Nope. Everyone thinks of the old Listerine or Scope mouthwash ads on TV, courtesy of our neighbors at ad agencies over in Manhattan. But mouthwashes have evolved, and there are two types of mouthwash: cosmetic and therapeutic.

Cosmetic mouthwashes control bad breath temporarily and they leave a pleasant taste in your mouth.

Therapeutic mouthwashes do more serious work. Therapeutic mouthwashes include ingredients that provide long-lasting bacterial reduction and can be used for conditions such as receding gums, gingivitis, dry mouth, and plaque buildup. They can be found in over the counter and prescription formulations.

What do you want the mouthwash to do?

When looking at all the mouthwash options (and there are now lots of them), you want to consider your personal oral health needs or goals.

  • Bad breath — If your main worry is bad breath, using a cosmetic mouthwash (like regular Scope) during the day may be all you need for keeping your breath fresh in the short term, say, for a big meeting.
  • Dry mouth — If you’re taking a certain medication and one of its side effects is dry mouth or if you have a health condition that creates this problem, then you need a mouthwash designed for oral comfort for many hours.
  • Plaque or gum problems — Other conditions, such as plaque buildup, receding gums, and gingivitis can be addressed by choosing mouthwashes containing fluoride, or those with other active ingredients that kill bacteria.

One constant is to look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. This means the mouthwash has been tested for effectiveness by the ADA. Not every mouthwash has this, including some of the biggies.

Look for these ingredients

Don’t just look at the hype on the front label, check the ingredients. Look for these ingredients:

  • Fluoride — Fluoride is proven to fight tooth decay and to help strengthen enamel.
  • Cetylpyridinium chloride — This eliminates bad breath by killing bacteria.
  • Chlorhexidine — This reduces plaque and controls gingivitis (gum inflammation).
  • Essential oils — Some mouthwashes contain compounds found in essential oils, such as menthol (peppermint), eucalyptus, and thymol (thyme), which have antifungal and antibacterial properties.
  • Carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide — These are whitening ingredients.

OK, those are the basics of what to look for when looking to add a mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine. In March’s second blog, we’ll get into nine recommended mouthwashes from a noted health website.

Until then, if it’s time to see Dr. Smith, Dr. Feng, and our team for your regular twice-yearly cleanings and exams, give us a ring at (914) 764-3540.

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