It’s been estimated by the Oral Health Foundation that only around 31% of adults use mouthwash on a regular basis, indicating that only a small proportion of us are using it in our daily teeth cleaning routine. Maintaining your oral health means combining thorough cleaning with regular dental check-ups, but have you ever thought about what mouthwash actually does for your teeth? Here’s an explanation:
Benefits of Mouthwash
Dentists and oral hygienists consider mouthwash as an ‘extra’ to your cleaning routine and should not be used as a substitute for brushing or flossing. Mouthwash is known to prevent tooth decay, freshen breath and also protect gums against periodontitis (gum disease). When choosing your mouthwash, you should opt for one which contains fluoride, which will help to prevent tooth decay. Mouthwash that also contains anti-bacterial ingredients can kill off any bacteria which is left behind after eating, ensuring you get a thorough clean.
Mouthwash that is considered as ‘therapeutic’ has been known to treat certain oral conditions such as mouth ulcers, infections or inflamed gums and should be considered as clinical solutions rather than cosmetic. ‘Cosmetic’ mouthwash on the other hand, will be more suited to freshening your breath rather than attacking plaque and strengthening teeth with fluoride. Your dentist will be able to provide information and guidance when it comes to the right type of mouthwash for you and also offer instructions on how it should be used in your oral health routine.
How mouthwash should be used
Dental professionals suggest that any mouthwash, even those containing fluoride, should not be used after brushing your teeth. The reason being that toothpaste contains a higher concentration of fluoride compared to mouthwash; using it after brushing could be washing away the fluoride which left on teeth.
Other times to use mouthwash in order to freshen breath and top-up fluoride levels could be during the day, perhaps after lunch has been eaten. You should also use mouthwash alongside regular flossing and interdental cleaning. Brushing thoroughly and becoming more conscious about fluoride levels will ensure that you are keeping on top of your oral health and help fight decay.
For more information about dental conditions and looking after your oral health, visit our Dental Advice section.