Many people think that their oral hygiene routine isn’t complete until they use mouthwash. But there are many people out there recommending against the use of mouthwash. How can you figure out whether mouthwash is good for you or not?
Here’s a rundown on the potential benefits and drawbacks of mouthwash.
Mouthwash Can Be Effective
If you read the information on the internet, you’re likely only going to find people criticizing the shortcomings of mouthwash. But don’t be fooled: mouthwash can be a very effective oral hygiene tool.
Mouthwash can kill oral bacteria that cause gum disease and contribute to receding gums. Even better, mouthwash, as a liquid, can penetrate areas in your mouth that brushing and even flossing can’t reach. That makes it a potentially invaluable tool for combating certain oral infections that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to control–infections that are damaging your gums and bone vital to supporting and preserving your teeth. So, in some situations, mouthwash can save your teeth.
Mouthwash Misuse Is Common, Destructive
The problem is that mouthwash is often misused, and when it’s misused, it can be damaging.
Oral bacteria in our mouths can be helpful or harmful. But mouthwash doesn’t distinguish between the two. It kills all oral bacteria indiscriminately. By killing off helpful bacteria, it gives dangerous bacteria–which is often better adapted to multiplying and spreading quickly–a chance to take over in your mouth.
Most commercial mouthwashes have alcohol as their main ingredient. Alcohol can irritate and damage your gums, and it can dehydrate your mouth, which is exactly what you don’t want before you go to bed and your saliva production drops as you sleep.
Another misuse of mouthwash is to use it as a substitute for brushing or flossing. It’s not. And cutting out brushing and flossing in favor of mouthwash will hurt your oral health.
Use Mouthwash Only as Directed by Your Dentist
So how do you know when and how to use mouthwash to protect your gums? Your dentist will tell you. For example, your dentist can tell when your oral biome has been dominated by harmful bacteria. In this case, it’s more important to kill off the harmful bacteria than preserve the helpful bacteria. Once you’ve reduce the population of damaging bacteria, there are ways to reestablish a healthy oral biome.
Your dentist can also help you work out the best mouthwash for you. Sometimes, you might benefit from the ingredients in mouthwash, such as fluoride, more than you’ll suffer from other ingredients, like alcohol.
In some cases, your dentist may prescribe a mouthwash. These are specially formulated and selected for your situation. You will be given precise use instructions that will help you improve your oral health.