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Should Mouthwash Be a Part of Your Oral Health Care Routine?

By Bruce Wilderman on July 31, 2014

A woman smiling, in a dentist chair with a cup to her mouthWhen it comes to maintaining healthy gums and teeth, mouthwash is not as important as brushing and flossing. However, it can be a useful addition to any oral health regimen. According to the ADA, mouthwash, when combined with brushing and flossing, can help prevent gum disease by reducing plaque and bacteria. Though many restorative dentistry patients find mouthwash to be beneficial to overall oral health, you may be wondering how to use mouthwash most effectively or if it's even necessary. Philadelphia dentist Bruce Wilderman offers this overview to help answer your mouthwash questions.

Including Mouthwash in Your Daily Dental Routine

Mouthwash is not a substitute for practicing proper oral hygiene, but when used as part of a daily routine, mouthwash can help prevent cavities and gum disease. Mouthwash can be used either before or after brushing and flossing, but should be used per the recommended use listed on the bottle. Patients should gargle with the indicated amount and for the indicated amount of time. Most over-the-counter mouthwashes recommend a full 45 seconds of gargling and swishing before spitting out the mouthwash. You can be sure to get the most out of your mouthwash by not rinsing your mouth immediately with water after spitting out the mouthwash. This helps the mouthwash reach its full effect.

Choosing the Right Mouthwash

There are different types of mouthwash available. Many over-the-counter mouthwashes are sufficient for keeping the breath minty fresh. There are also prescription mouthwashes available to treat more severe conditions. To find out which type of mouthwash is best for you, it is important to discuss your oral health care needs with your dentist. In the meantime, here are a few common types of mouthwashes to be aware of:

  • Fluoride mouthwash: Fluoride mouthwash helps protect against cavities by restoring minerals to the tooth's enamel.
  • Anti-plaque mouthwash: Anti-plaque mouthwash helps prevent plaque from accumulating on the teeth and gum line. This helps reduce gingivitis and tooth decay.
  • Sensitivity reducing mouthwash: For those who suffer from tooth sensitivity, desensitizing mouthwash is an option.
  • Antiseptic mouthwash: Antiseptic mouthwashes stop bacterial growth and can help reduce oral infections.

Overusing Mouthwash

Using mouthwash a couple of times a day is normal and typically causes no problems. Overuse is generally not a problem, however, some people who use mouthwash multiple times a day may experience gum and tissue irritation. For those who experience tissue irritation, switching to an alcohol-free mouthwash can help alleviate the burn. Those with acid reflux or heartburn may experience symptoms from use of acidic mouthwashes. These patients should try using a neutrally balanced mouthwash to prevent acid reflux or heartburn caused by acidic mouthwash.

Discuss Your Treatment Options with Dr. Wilderman

Including mouthwash in your daily dental hygiene routine can be beneficial. If you have more questions about mouthwash and your daily oral care routine, or would like to discuss your treatment options, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Wilderman

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