You either never miss it or never use it. Mouthwash is marketed so often for whitening teeth and freshening breath, that’s all we think it’s good for.
But, what does mouthwash actually do?
There are really just two purposes of a mouthwash. One is to coat teeth in fluoride and the second is to kill off the bacteria that cause dental disease. Most mouthwashes do one or the other. As well as freshening your breath and whitening your teeth.
Fluoride mouthwashes are aimed at strengthening your enamel and so make it less likely to become decayed in the future. Whereas, anti bacterial based mouthwash will kill bacteria on contact. Leftover bacteria causes tooth decay. The bacteria turns into sugar and then eats into the tough enamel of the tooth, allowing decay to set in and can lead to a dental abscess. Stronger enamel means a lesser chance of tooth loss down the line. Fluoride based mouthwashes should generally be used after seeking professional dental advise as excessive fluoride intake can cause permanent damage to the teeth, especially in children.
Leftover bacteria can also cause bad breath. It stays trapped between the teeth and the tongue, releasing sulphurous gasses and can lead to gum disease if it is not removed. Therefore, you can see the important of anti-bacterial mouthwash!
Whether you opt for fluoride or anti-bacterial, some mouthwashes may still contain alcohol. Which some may wish to avoid. However, generally speaking, mouthwash is totally safe to use. Try not to swallow it though.
Choosing the right one for you.
Whilst the clinical effects of mouthwashes have been proven it is certainly not a replacement for brushing and flossing. This is because a mouthwash will not remove bacteria between the teeth and under the gum line effectively and so should be used as an adjunct to regular brushing and flossing. Much like toothpastes, you will have to pick the right one for you.
People with fillings and frequent issues with dental decay are obviously more at risk of tooth decay. Meaning a fluoride mouthwash is the most appropriate for them. If you have bleeding gums when brushing you are likely suffering from gum disease. This makes an anti-bacterial mouthwash more apt. You will also want to go for anti-bac if you have chronic bad breath.
It is critical to take professional advice from a dental hygienist or therapist who are experts in oral hygiene before using mouthwashes that are appropriate for you. They can prescribe the best mouthwash for you and how often to use it. Despite the temptation to buy mouthwash from the counter, you might find yourself using something that is ineffective for your needs.