The Truth in Every Rinse: The Workings of Mouthwash

15253378-open-mouthSilently sitting on sinks and kitchen counter tops, your mouthwash plays probably one of the most underrated roles of a superhero. Countless times one swish of this liquid in the mouth has saved people from a bad first impression when meeting potential business investors or a first date. It does not need a cape to save the taste buds from the tragedy of undesirable food encounters. But, while its benefit is right on the spot, it does not last long.

Popularly regarded as the first aid to eliminating bad breath, it is true that mouthwash does relieve bad breath, but only temporarily. However, it should be emphasized that its function lacks the capability to remove the underlying causes of bad breath such as diseases involving the digestive system, dental cavities, and periodontal diseases. If a person finds the need to use mouthwash more than usual and necessary, it is strongly suggestive of underlying problems which should be assessed by a dentist. Therefore, it is technically right to say that the use of mouthwash is a preventive measure.

There are two classifications of mouthwashes. Therapeutic mouth rinse has antibacterial properties that can prevent build-up of bacteria and development of gum disease. Some of these therapeutic mouth rinses contain fluoride which helps in protecting teeth and strengthening them. The other type is referred to as cosmetic mouthwash. These are only used to relieve bad breath. They do not contain antibacterial ingredients.

On the other hand, mouthwashes can be also be classified into alcohol or non-alcohol. The majority of mouthwashes available on the market have alcohol in them. Alcohol can cause dryness of the mouth. Alcohol-free mouthwashes are generally milder and are more suitable for people with mouth sensitivity. Alcohol-free forms are also recommended for children because of the danger in accidental swallowing.

Aside from guaranteed instant fresh breath, using mouthwash can help with the removal of food debris in the mouth. Some people use it as a substitute for brushing and flossing, which is a grave mistake. The simple act of rinsing a liquid in the mouth can’t effectively free teeth from potential plaque-forming substances. According to dentists, it doesn’t matter the order of brushing, flossing, and rinsing as long as you perform each one in your oral hygiene routine.

Lastly, mouthwashes or mouth rinses are screened for quality and effectiveness. This is done by the American Dental Association. Those washes and rinses that are proven safe and suitable for public consumption carry with them ADA seals as proof that they are scientifically-tested. This proof also comes with a brief statement from ADA explaining why a specific brand earned the seal.

Your Mouthwash Does Much More Than Freshen Your Breath

mouthwashMost people gargle mouthwash each day to keep their mouth and breath fresh and minty. But mouthwash does much more than freshen your breath.  Dentists say mouthwash and other rinses can be beneficial to overall oral health and an important part of daily oral hygiene. People gargle mouthwash thinking it will get rid of bad breath, but that is the minty liquid’s least effective function.

There are two types of mouthwashes, cosmetic and therapeutic.  Cosmetic rinses reduce and help control bad breath, but don’t really kill the bacteria that can cause bad breath.  Therapeutic rinses are made to reduce tooth plaque, inflammation of the gums and they neutralize the acidity of the mouth.  Fluoride and xylitol rinses also help to prevent cavities.

Therapeutic rinses neutralize the pH of the mouth that can lead to tooth decay.  When the bacteria in our mouth consume carbohydrates and sugars, their metabolic waste is acid and this can result in tooth decay.

When purchasing mouthwash, look for rinses that contain xylitol.  This is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol which certain bacteria are unable to metabolize, so it helps to neutralize the acidity. Dentists also recommend looking for rinses that do not contain alcohol as these can dry out the mouth.  A dry mouth can cause bad breath.

Above all, if you have to use excessive amounts of mouthwash to freshen your breath, you probably have an underlying problem.  Be sure to discuss this with your dentist so that you can take care of the situation.

There Is More To Your Mouthwash Than A Minty Taste|Wall Street Journal