Most people know that taking care of our teeth and gums is an important part of our lives. We brush our teeth at least twice a day, floss regularly, and receive checkups and cleanings at our favorite family dental practice. Another tool in the arsenal of great oral health is mouthwash, yet there is a dizzying array of products to choose from. In this guide, we’ll provide the details you need to find the perfect mouthwash for you and for your family.
Mouthwashes for Every Need
Scanning the store shelves, you may have become overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices of mouthwashes. Mouthwashes come in a range of flavors and colors, and many manufacturers make mouthwash products for specific uses. How does one choose the right mouthwash? The process begins by understanding how mouthwashes are used. There are two major varieties to be aware of: breath-fresheners and germ-fighters.
Breath-freshening mouthwashes are typically used after brushing to put that finishing touch on a clean and healthy mouth. These mouthwashes are ideal for use after meals or for a quick elimination of bad breath before that important meeting or social event. While this type of mouthwash does help clean the teeth and gums, there are better choices if the goal is to kill germs.
Germ-fighting mouthwashes contain ingredients that kill the germs that cause bad breath. These mouthwashes can be used after brushing, or can be used in place of brushing when time is a factor. Most germ-fighting mouthwashes have antibacterial properties, and often contain specially-formulated ingredients to enhance our oral health.
There is a third, less common mouthwash available, and this is a specialized mouthwash formula that helps to reduce plaque buildup on and between the teeth. This mouthwash is particularly useful for those people who have troublesome plaque – the mouthwash breaks up plaque deposits while also helping to fight cavity-causing bacteria.
Considerations When Choosing Mouthwashes
Now that we understand the major types of mouthwashes available, there are several other factors to consider. The first factor is that of the age and preferences of the intended mouthwash user. Many over-the-counter mouthwashes contain alcohol, which is an effective and inexpensive carrier that helps kill germs. Unfortunately, ingesting it can be dangerous, especially for small children. Others may have alcohol sensitivities. Still others, particularly those recovering from alcoholism, may find the presence of alcohol in their mouthwash unappealing. Choosing an alcohol-free mouthwash, then, is a great idea. Luckily, there are numerous products on the market that are alcohol-free.
Some people may experience tingling and irritation from certain mouthwashes. This is especially common among dental patients who have had recent procedures such as periodontal scaling or root planing. Mouthwashes can aggravate the tender tissues of the mouth. To help prevent unpleasant sensations, choose mouthwashes with soothing agents like aloe vera or chamomile. Alcohol-free rinses and flavorless rinses may be good choices for those with mouth sensitivities.
Using Mouthwashes to Support Great Oral Health
Mouthwashes are great for helping to keep the teeth and gums healthy and strong. It is important to note, however, that using mouthwash is not a replacement for the other oral health foundations of brushing and flossing. To get the most out of your mouthwash use, and to help keep your teeth as healthy as possible, here are a few tips:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day. Additional brushing after meals or after consuming sweets can flush away cavity-causing acids and bacteria.
- Don’t forget to floss at least once a day to remove food particles and plaque from between the teeth.
- After brushing and flossing, use a mouthwash to help rinse away any particles and plaque your brushing and flossing may have missed. Follow the mouthwash package directions for best results.
- Make an appointment with your favorite family dental clinic for a checkup and dental cleaning. Your teeth and gums will thank you!