Know Your Mouthwash Benefits
The American Dental Association recommends antimicrobial mouthwashes as an added layer of protection against plaque and gum disease, while fluoride-containing mouthwashes can protect your teeth against tooth decay, according to The New York Times. Since both are pretty good benefits, it can be a tough decision to choose the mouthwash benefits that are best. Here are a few examples:
• Chlorhexidine is a type of antimicrobial mouthwash available only by prescription. This mouthwash type is helpful in protecting your teeth against plaque and gum disease. Read your medication label carefully if you’re using this mouthwash type, however, because it has some time constraints on its use. For example, toothpaste can deactivate the effectiveness of the mouthwash. You also should avoid tea, coffee or red wine immediately after using a chlorhexidine mouthwash because it increases the likelihood you’ll stain your teeth.
• Listerine or its equivalents are an over-the-counter form of antimicrobial mouthwash that’s designed to reduce plaque and prevent gum disease. Some people shy away from this mouthwash’s benefits because it has a tendency to burn when you first use it. This typically goes away after a few uses — and isn’t a healthy mouth worth it?
• Scope or other mouthwashesthat contain the active ingredient cetylpyridinium have an antimicrobial effect with less of the sting. The catch for this is that they should be used an hour after you brush and aren’t typically as strong as Listerine or prescription options.
• Fluoride mouthwashes, such as Act, can help to prevent cavities, but they aren’t going to protect you against gum disease like gingivitis.
Talking to your doctor about goals for your oral health can help you best determine what mouthwash benefits you.
Timing Is Everything
Just like you can’t brush your teeth for 15 seconds and expect your teeth to be clean, you can’t swish a mouthwash for a short amount of time and think it will protect you against bacteria and all the germs that like to situate themselves between your teeth. While you should read your mouthwash label carefully, you’ll likely need to use a mouthwash for at least 30 seconds to one minute to get the protection you’re going for when you use a mouthwash.
Even if you are a model patient in using your mouthwash, you can’t neglect the importance of regular trips to the dentist. Since the diseases mouthwash works to prevent often develop silently, you need your dentist to evaluate your overall gum and teeth health.
“Many patients diagnosed with periodontal disease will tell me they don’t experience pain in their teeth and gums,” said W. Frank Johnson, DDS, a dentist in private practice in Hixson, Tenn. “Because the disease is not painful, most people don’t even know they have it until a dentist’s examination and x-rays reveal bone loss around your teeth.”
Not for the Little Ones
Some mouthwashes aren’t appropriate for your little ones. If your child is under the age of 6, avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol because these are considered potentially harmful for children, who are at greater risk for swallowing the mouthwash. Sometimes alcohol-containing mouthwashes may be too harsh for your teeth and gums, especially if you have sensitive ones. If you do experience some initial sensitivity, this will likely subside with additional uses, according to the American Journal of Dentistry.