The Brilliance of Rinsing

“The General Dentistry study found that using a germ-killing mouth rinse twice a day, in addition to regular brushing, can significantly reduce the occurrence of plaque, as well as gingivitis—the beginning stage of gum disease.” –Academy of General Dentistry Publication

Rinsing your mouth each day with beneficial mouthwash is a great way to improve your oral health and keep your smile in tip-top shape. Like toothpaste, floss, and toothbrushes, there are many different kinds of mouthwashes available in the world today, and their benefits may vary. So, how do you know you are using the right kind? Well, the simplest answer is to talk to your dentist. Talking to your dentist is the best way to make sure you are making the best decisions for your oral health.

Mouthwash ingredients
According to the American Dental Association, the basic ingredients found in mouthwashes range from water, alcohol, cleansing agents, and flavoring. The active ingredients in mouthwash depend on the type of rinse. The four general groups of these ingredients are:

• “Antimicrobial agents, which act directly on oral bacteria to help reduce plaque, decrease the severity of gingivitis, and control bad breath.
• Fluoride, which helps reduce tiny lesions (tooth decay) on tooth enamel and make teeth more resistant to decay.
• Astringent salts, which serve as temporary deodorizers that mask bad breath.
• Odor neutralizers, which act by chemically inactivating odor causing compounds.”

There are also many options when it comes to making your own mouthwash. With the right recipe, you can make a rinse that disinfects the mouth, neutralizes the bacteria, and reduces plaque. However, salt water rinses are not generally recommended because they tend to be more acidic. For the best homemade or store-bought mouthwash suggestions, please feel free to talk to your dentist.

When should you use mouthwash?
For those who struggle to brush and floss daily, mouthwash is a supplemental tool that aids in total dental health. While it does not completely replace brushing and flossing, mouthwash does help neutralize odor and decay-causing bacteria that may have been missed in your dental care routine. Some mouthwashes have anti-cavity agents, which help protect tooth enamel with fluoride. Often, these kinds of mouthwashes are recommended for patients who don’t receive enough fluoride in their water sources or from toothpaste. To choose the best kind of mouthwash for you, asking your dentist is the best option.

For more information and resources regarding National Dental Hygiene Month or mouthwash use, visit http://www.adha.org/national-dental-hygiene-month.