Starting at a young age you have heard that preventative dentistry is better than restorative dental care. Proper, at-home oral hygiene of flossing and teeth brushing along with regular dental check-ups and professional teeth cleaning are the magic formula for reducing your risk of cavities, gum disease and other dental issues. As an adult, you likely have had the occasional day or two or life stage where you didn’t always make it in to see the dentist or you were too tired to brush your teeth before going to bed.

Does Mouthwash Make a Difference?

There has been debate about whether mouthwash is necessary for proper at-home preventative dental care. The conclusion has thus far been inconclusive, so it remains to be a patient’s personal preference. For many patients, the mild burning sensation and fresh feeling of the mouth are often associated with a newly cleaned mouth. There are pros and cons to using mouthwash so it is up to each patient whether it would be beneficial or useful to use mouthwash.

The Case Against Mouthwash

The biggest concern and reservation patients have about using mouthwash is the amount of sugar and alcohol as ingredients. Sugar particles can stick to teeth and accumulate, causing a film over the teeth. This film, which is also made up of germs and bacteria can build-up and create enamel-destroying plaque. For some people who take their oral health seriously may wonder why one would choose to expose their teeth and gums to potentially harmful sugars when attempting to clean one’s teeth.

While the amount of alcohol in mouthwash is small, it is still a listed ingredient, making some patients hesitant about using it. Those with small children are even more concerned about their children accidentally swallowing the mouthwash, which contains a small trace of alcohol. It is the alcohol that causes the uncomfortable, unpleasant burning sensation when the mouthwash is being swished around in the mouth. With the alcohol ingredient being such a reservation for so many patients and consumers, most major mouthwash brands now have alcohol-free versions of their products.

The Case For Mouthwash

Mouthwash is often associated with clean, healthy mouths that also smell great. Mouthwash does a good job freshening the mouth and giving one good-smelling breath that always comes in handy. It is commonly thought that mouthwash should be included in one’s at-home oral hygiene routine because its liquid composition can penetrate and rinse out the hardest to reach and tightest places in the mouth that can’t be accessed with a toothbrush or a string of dental floss.

There have not been any harm to one’s oral health or overall health through the use of mouthwash. The alcohol in mouthwash is an effective antiseptic, killing germs and bacteria in the mouth. Some mouthwashes, including those used by dentists also contain fluoride which has been known to boost the health of one’s teeth.

Including the use of mouthwash in one’s preventative oral hygiene routine is optional. It does provide an additional level of clean and it freshens one’s breath. It is also another step in the oral hygiene routine taking a few more extra minutes. It also causes uncomfortable burning sensations and exposes teeth and gums to unnecessary sugars. Regardless of whether you use mouthwash or not, it should not be used in place of teeth brushing or flossing.

If you have concerns or questions about which mouthwash is best for you, schedule an appointment with your dentist and get his or her input.

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