Mouthwash: Do I Need to Use it?
By Mina Levi, DDS 01/30/2014
Many of us are aware that brushing and flossing should be a part of our daily hygiene regimen, but mouthwash seems to have always been optional. This leaves us with questions regarding whether or not it is actually necessary, what kinds we should be using, and how often. The only thing we know to be true is that it usually burns our mouths when we use it. In this article, we discuss the history of mouthwash and how to use it in our daily dental care routines.
Where did mouthwash come from?
People have been using mouthwash-like recipes for cleaning teeth and freshening breath since ancient times, in Greek, Egyptian, Chinese and Roman cultures. The mouthwash that we know and use today was developed and mass-produced in the later 1800’s. Then, most of the mouthwash formulas used alcohol to kill off germs. With improvements in science and research, we are now able to develop mouthwash formulas without alcohol and instead with products like cetylpyridium chloride. There are even developments of mouthwash formulas for sensitive mouths or with more natural products that work to kill germs, too.
Is mouthwash a necessary part of the oral hygiene regimen?
If a person has optimal oral health and keeps up with flossing and brushing regularly, then mouthwash is optional, but still good to use. However, for those who have gingivitis, periodontitis, easily bleeding gums, halitosis, or other oral health-related ailments, then mouthwash is absolutely a necessary part of the daily dental care routine.
Mouthwash works with brushing and flossing (and should for no reason act as a substitute for either) to keep the mouth healthy.
How do I know if I am using mouthwash properly?
There are a few factors to consider when using mouthwash, which is how much you should use, how much you should dilute it, and how long you should swish it in your mouth.
You want to have enough mouthwash in your mouth to be able to run it throughout the mouth and through all of the crevices of the teeth and gums, but you do not want so much that you are not able to move it around in your mouth easily. One way to ensure that you are using a good amount is to use a mouthwash dispenser. This also helps with over-filling and wasting the mouthwash.
Depending on the brand or type of mouthwash you choose to use, each may have different recommendations on dilution. With alcoholic mouthwashes, it is good to dilute them with water so that the burning sensation is not so intense. However, if the label on the
mouthwash does not recommend diluting, then diluting it may cause the germ-killing benefits to decrease.
Normally, a good amount of time to have mouthwash in the mouth each time is about thirty seconds to one minute. However, this time will also depend on the brand or type of mouthwash that you choose to use.
What type should I be using?
The office of Dr. Mina Levi suggests using a non-alcoholic mouthwash with a medium concentration that does not stain the teeth. Oxyfresh is a good option – it has hydrogen peroxide and Xylitol, which adds antibacterial and mechanical properties from the foam to push plaque out of the periodontal pockets. Xylitol has antibacterial properties and inhibits the growth of oral bacteria. Oxyfresh also has mouthwashes with peppermint oil or lemon-mint scent.
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