Mouthwash: When Is It Recommended? - Step To Health

Mouthwash: When Is It Recommended?

Do you think you need to use a mouthwash? Read on to find out what these products are used for and their benefits.
Mouthwash: When Is It Recommended?

Last update: 13 November, 2021

Mouthwash is a great compliment when it comes to taking care of dental health. It’s a liquid product that’s used to rinse the teeth, gums, and mucous membranes of the mouth.

These mouthwashes don’t replace the use of a toothbrush and dental floss but complement oral hygiene. However, we’d like to tell you the proper way to use them so that they’re the most effective.

You should know that there are different types of oral rinses with particular ingredients that make them ideal for use in different situations.

Read on and find out which mouthwash is right for you!

What is mouthwash?

As we’ve already mentioned, mouthwash is a liquid that’s used in the mouth to rinse oral structures or gargle. It’s a compliment to oral hygiene that helps to take care of oral health.

In general, a mouthwash helps to eliminate germs from the mouth, controls bacterial plaque, and leaves a fresh breath. However, thank some of their active ingredients, they can also provide other specific benefits, such as preventing cavities or treating gingivitis.

It’s important to consider that mouthwash is a complement to toothbrushing and flossing. It doesn’t replace any of these procedures. On the contrary, it reinforces them to obtain a much more complete and effective oral hygiene.

Because it’s a liquid solution, its permanence and movement in the mouth allow it to reach areas where the bristles of the toothbrush cannot reach. This way, completing dental hygiene using mouthwash helps to reduce bacterial plaque and prevent many common oral diseases.

The types of mouthwashes and their uses

We already told you that most mouthwashes help to reduce bacteria in the mouth and thus prevent many of the diseases that germs cause. However, you should know that there’s a wide variety of mouthwashes available for use in specific situations.

Most are over-the-counter and can be found in both pharmacies and supermarkets. However, with so much variety available, choosing the right one can be a complicated job!

When looking for your mouthwash, it’s best to consult your dentist to recommend a product according to the condition and needs of your mouth. In any case, knowing the different types of mouthwashes will help you understand the characteristics of these products.

Here are their uses and benefits.

Cepillado dental complementa los colutorios bucales.
Mouthwashes cannot be used alone. They act as a complement to toothbrushing and flossing. 

Common commercial mouthwashes

This is the most basic mouthwash on the market. It consists of a liquid with active ingredients similar to toothpaste that helps to remove food debris and bacteria from the mouth.

It also provides fresh breath and slight protection against cavities, so it can be a great help in cases of halitosis. This type of mouthwash comes in different flavors and may contain alcohol.

Antiseptic or anti-plaque rinses

This type of mouthwash has specific ingredients that help control and reduce bacterial plaque in the mouth. In general, they contain chlorhexidine digluconate, although they can be combined with other active ingredients, such as povidone-iodine, phenols, metallic salts, or essential oils.

They’re very useful for treating gingivitis and periodontal disease. They’re also recommended for use after oral surgery or implant placement to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection. Plus, an antiseptic mouthwash can also be used to accelerate healing and reduce the pain of canker sores and mouth ulcers.

However, their use should be limited to cases in which the dentist believes appropriate prescription. The active ingredients they contain can be harmful if used for a prolonged or excessive period. Therefore, a professional should indicate the correct way to use them.

Mouthwashes with fluoride

Mouthwash with fluoride gives extra protection to tooth enamel against the action of acids produced by bacteria in the mouth. This way, it’s very useful for preventing caries and even reversing the initial stages of the disease.

This type of mouthwash can be used in both adults and children at high risk of cavities, although its use is not recommended before the age of 6. In any case, your dentist should be the one to indicate this type of product. Also, they’ll be in charge of specifying the time and frequency of use.

Mouthwashes for dry mouth

When suffering from xerostomia or dry mouth, there’s a greater risk of oral infections and developing more plaque. This is because the saliva doesn’t fulfill its function.

For this reason, a mouthwash that lubricates the mouth refreshes it, and prevents diseases is ideal. In general, mouthwashes containing minerals, fluoride, and vitamin E are used.

Other types of mouthwash

There are mouthwashes for specific purposes that help to improve the particular situation of the mouth of certain patients. For example, we can also find washes:

  • For people with braces: These mouthwashes are designed to add protection and improve hygiene for patients who wear braces.
  • For denture wearers: These are alcohol-free mouthwashes that strengthen the gums and mucous membranes of patients who wear dentures.
  • For before periodontal surgery: A dentist may prescribe mouthwashes with hexetidine or chlorhexidine before periodontal surgery. The antibacterial, antifungal, and antiseptic actions of these products prevent complications.
  • For tooth whitening reinforcement: After a tooth whitening procedure, your dentist may prescribe a whitening mouthwash every so often to sustain and prolong the results.

Common ingredients in mouthwash

Overall, the specific function of each mouthwash depends largely on its components. Many times, the ingredients are combined to enhance the action of the product.

It’s essential to read labels to choose the mouthwash that best suits your needs. Here are some of the ingredients found in mouthwashes on the market:

  • Fluorides: Fluoride protects against cavities.
  • Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic with anti-plaque and antibacterial action. It’s often indicated for oral surgery or as a treatment for gum disease. It should only be used under the indication of a dentist because its prolonged use stains teeth and gums and alters the taste.
  • Hexetidine has antiseptic and antifungal action and accelerates the healing process of mucous membranes. Combined with zinc salts, its anti-plaque action is greater. It also stains teeth and soft tissues, so it should be used according to your dentist’s indications.
  • Povidone-iodine: This is a bactericide and fungicide used to prevent the progression of gingivitis and periodontitis.
  • Essential oils: The combination of natural oils allows the elimination of bacterial plaque and the reduction of gingival inflammation.
  • Phenols have an antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory action. Triclosan is one of the most effective, but its use is limited to cases in which the professional considers it necessary and appropriate. It’s considered a substance that could have negative effects on health.
  • Metallic salts: A high concentration of these elements is required to have antibacterial action. However, they may have some toxicity and provide a bad taste to the product.
  • Natural products: They don’t have much scientific support yet. However, some people prefer to make mouthwashes made with plant extracts. The most commonly used are aloe vera, chamomile, bloodroot, and propolis.
  • Whitening agents are used to reinforce and maintaining the effects achieved with a teeth whitening treatment.
Joven usa colutorio bucal.
Some mouthwashes contain alcohol. It is important to know before you buy and use them.

Should I use mouthwashes with or without alcohol?

There are mouthwashes on the market that contain alcohol and mouthwashes that do not. In addition to reading it on the ingredients, the patient can notice the presence of the substance by the slight burning sensation they leave in the mouth.

Many rinses contain alcohol because, in addition to being an antiseptic, it allows the dilution of its components. For this reason, it’s important to avoid swallowing these products.

Although the amount of alcohol in mouthwashes is very low, their drying action can reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth. For this reason, patients who suffer from dry mouth, xerostomia, and other oral irritations should avoid products containing this substance.

Also, it’s a good idea to choose an alcohol-free mouthwash if it will be used by multiple family members, especially if the family group includes children, teenagers, or pregnant women. Recovering alcoholics should also avoid using these products to prevent relapse.

How to use mouthwash correctly

Overall, how to use mouthwash may vary depending on the type of product and it is best to read the instructions on the package. In general, however, the following steps should be followed:

  1. Brushing and flossing: Proper oral hygiene is recommended before rinsing with washes. However, the indications of the product or your dentist may suggest doing it afterward.
  2. Pour the mouthwash into the measuring cup: The product usually comes with a measuring cup to put it in. It’s important to respect the amount indicated in the instructions or by the dentist. In general, it is about four teaspoons or 20 milliliters.
  3. Put the product in your mouth and wash: The product should be moved around vigorously inside your closed mouth for 30 seconds, Try to reach all surfaces of the mouth. Do not swallow. Counting in your head or using a watch may help.
  4. Spit it out: All of the solutions should be flushed down the sink. In case the mouthwash is used by a child, it’s essential to control this step to prevent them from swallowing the product.
  5. Wait: Avoid rinsing, eating, drinking, or smoking for at least 30 minutes to reap the full benefits of mouthwash.

Finally, it’s important not to dilute the product with water unless the label says so. Otherwise, you won’t get the full benefits of the rinse.

Mouthwash is a beneficial oral hygiene practice

Mouthwash can be used as part of your daily oral hygiene routine, or as directed by your dentist for a specific problem. They’re not always necessary and the best option is to consult a specialist to choose the right one and use it properly.

Reinforcing the enamel, protecting teeth from cavities, and reducing plaque are some of the benefits of using these products. They are also useful to improve breath and to prevent and treat gingivitis and periodontitis.

Finally, it’s essential to remember that all these results are achieved if the rinse is used conscientiously and responsibly. At no time should you stop brushing your teeth or abandon flossing.

On the contrary, mouthwashes complement the usual oral cleaning maneuvers. Having mouthwash as a complement to your routine is sure to bring wellness and health to your mouth.

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