Mouthwash are solutions which are either gargled or used for rinsing your mouth. This is not really a modern day dental medicine product. The first mouthwash solution dates back to 2700 B.C. in China where they used a variety of mixtures and herbs such as camphor, salt, vinegar, white wine etc.
Today, Chlorhexidine is the standard among mouthwash solutions. But here, we will be focusing on the logic behind it, how to use it, what type are there and what are the possible adverse effects.
What is the logic behind using mouthwash?
Even if we brush our teeth three times a day (it’s recommended to brush them at least twice a day) we cannot remove plaque only by using our toothbrush. So our day to day oral hygiene regime is not sufficient. But with adding mouthwash to our routine we can clean out teeth and mouth better, and prevent periodontal disease.
Just because mechanical plaque removal through brushing and flossing isn’t 100% effective, doesn’t mean that you should stop. Those are still the basics of preventing periodontal disease. Many studies found that some people fail to maintain their teeth clean enough to prevent periodontal disease either through lack of motivation, skill or dexterity. They can use mouthwash to help their brushing efforts and keep plaque under control.
Another benefit of using mouthwash is that it helps you deliver antimicrobial agents to every parts of your mouth, especially those where harmful bacteria can infect surfaces above and under the gum line. Saliva in some part on our tongue can harbor bad bacteria that we cannot scrub off while brushing. They can quickly recolonize our teeth and gums, causing infections and periodontal disease.
When we gargle mouthwash in our mouth, the antibacterial microbes reach every part of our mouth and tongue, which helps us eliminate harmful bacteria.
Benefits of using mouthwash include:
- Reducing the amount of plaque
- Help improve oral hygiene
- Killing bacteria in places that we cannot reach by brushing/flossing
- Killing bacteria on non-tooth surfaces etc.
Mouthwash can be used as an adjunct to your normal mechanical oral hygiene like:
- After root planing or subgingival scaling
- When your mechanical oral hygiene isn’t adequate
- Post-scaling hypersensitivity
Furthermore, they can also be used as a toothbrush substitute when brushing your teeth isn’t possible:
- After a dental procedure
- After a post-trauma treatment or
- During acute oral infection
Types of mouthwash
Depending on what are you using it for, a mouthwash can be either cosmetic or therapeutic.
When you want to eliminate bad breather and have a pleasant, fresh, minty taste, you use cosmetic mouthwash. These types have no chemical or biological benefits. They simply eliminate those two problems temporarily.
But if you want to reduce and control conditions like plaque, gingivitis, tooth decay and bad breath, you use therapeutic mouthwash. Therapeutic mouthwashes have active ingredients and they all support a different function:
- Fluoride – prevents tooth decay
- Peroxide – whitens your teeth
- Chlorhexidine – kills harmful bacteria
- Essential oils – also kills harmful bacteria
- Cetylpyridinium chloride – eliminates bad breath
What type should you choose?
Before you can make a decision whether you want a cosmetic or therapeutic mouthwash, you first need to schedule an appointment with our dentist so they could evaluate your overall oral health status. Based on that evaluation, we can prescribe what mouthwash should you use.
Chlorhexidine is one of the most commonly used mouthwash on the market, because it has a longer time of action and because it removes dental plaque and lowers the risk of gingivitis. Aside from this, essential oils are also a good choice. Just make sure that you choose the one that was approved by the American Dental Association (it will have a ADA Accepted seal on it).
Today, in the age of Covid-19 infection, some dentists might also prescribe Povidine-lodine mouthwash because not only does it kill the bacteria in your mouth, but it can also reduce the viral load and prevent infections or prevent the infection from spreading.