Rinsing right for dental hygiene: How mouthwash benefits your oral health | Health - Hindustan Times
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Rinsing right for dental hygiene: How mouthwash benefits your oral health

ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi
Nov 23, 2023 05:29 PM IST

From teeth whitening to protection against cavity and plaque, check out these surprising oral health benefits of using mouthwash and tips to prevent drawbacks

There are two types of oral rinses: cosmetic and therapeutic where cosmetic mouthwashes temporarily help with bad breath, leaving behind a pleasant minty sensation so your mouth feels and smells fresher. On the other hand, therapeutic mouthwashes are available over-the-counter at your local drugstore by prescription, depending on the formulation which generally are more concentrated to fight plaque buildup, cavities and boost your oral hygiene.

Rinsing right for dental hygiene: How mouthwash benefits your oral health (Twitter/rsvipllc/ournews52238927)
Rinsing right for dental hygiene: How mouthwash benefits your oral health (Twitter/rsvipllc/ournews52238927)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Ekta Khatri, Founder and Prosthodontist at The FuncDent, The Functional Dentistry Centre, asserted that using a mouthwash can be a beneficial addition to your oral hygiene routine when done correctly and highlighted some ways in which mouthwash can benefit your oral health -

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  • Kills Bacteria: Mouthwash typically contains antimicrobial agents, such as alcohol or essential oils, which can help kill bacteria in your mouth. This can reduce the risk of gum disease, cavities, and bad breath.
  • Freshens Breath: One of the most noticeable benefits of mouthwash is its ability to freshen your breath. It can mask bad odors and kill the bacteria that cause bad breath.
  • Reduces Plaque: Some mouthwashes contain fluoride, which can help reduce plaque buildup on your teeth. This can lower your risk of developing cavities.
  • Gum Health: Mouthwash can help reduce inflammation in the gums and prevent or manage gum diseases like gingivitis. It can reach areas that toothbrushes and floss might miss.
  • Enhances Oral Hygiene Routine: Mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing and flossing but can complement these activities. When used alongside regular brushing and flossing, it can improve overall oral hygiene.
  • Post-Surgical or Specialised Use: Dentists may recommend specific mouthwashes for patients after oral surgery or for individuals with specific oral health conditions, like dry mouth or advanced gum disease.

Bringing her expertise to the same, Dr Manvi Srivastava, Department of Dentistry at Noida International Institute of Medical Sciences and Hospital in Noida International University, said, “The primary purpose of using a mouthwash product is to have fresher breath, but have you ever wondered if it can help prevent tooth decay or gum disease? There are two types of oral rinses: cosmetic and therapeutic. Cosmetic mouthwashes temporarily help with bad breath, leaving behind a pleasant minty sensation so your mouth feels and smells fresher. Therapeutic mouthwashes are available over-the-counter at your local drugstore or grocery store or by prescription, depending on the formulation. Therapeutic mouthwashes are generally more concentrated to fight plaque building, and cavities to boost oral hygiene.”

She elaborated upon some of the benefits in detail -

1. Freshens Breath: Most patients use mouthwash to freshen their breath. Swishing for thirty seconds will leave your mouth tasting minty clean and fresh. Especially if you’re headed to a speaking event or are going to be talking to others face to face, a swish of mouthwash will do the trick.

2. Removes Food Debris: Brushing and flossing will loosen up stuck on food debris but they may still be floating around in your mouth. Swishing with mouthwash after routine brushing and flossing will carry away those leftover food particles.

3. Cavity Protection: Most over-the-counter and prescription mouth rinses contain fluoride. Fluoride kills the bacteria that causes cavities and helps to strengthen enamel. The uptake of fluoride into the enamel is greater after brushing and flossing off soft plaque from the tooth surfaces.

4. Reduces Sensitivity: Prescription mouth rinses that contain a higher amount of fluoride will not only protect from cavities but they also reduce sensitivity. The higher levels of fluoride can block the sensitive areas of the teeth, reducing overall sensitivity.

5. Fights Gum Disease: Ingredients in mouthwash eliminate bacteria that cause gum disease. Swishing twice a day keeps the bacteria levels down which can reverse mild gingivitis and keep periodontitis from getting worse.

6. Reduces Dry Mouth: There are specific brands that will help to stimulate the production of saliva. Swishing several times a day will keep the mouth moist and help you make more of your own saliva.

7. Whitens Teeth: Some mouthwash contains whitening ingredients like hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide has been shown to safely and effectively brighten teeth.

Tips to prevent drawbacks

Dr Ekta Khatri cautioned that it is important to use mouthwash correctly to maximise its benefits and avoid potential drawbacks. She recommended -

  • Read the Label: Different mouthwashes have different ingredients and purposes. Read the label to choose one that meets your specific needs.
  • Follow Instructions: Pay attention to usage instructions on the product. Some mouthwashes should be used before brushing, while others are best used afterward.
  • Limit Alcohol-based Mouthwashes: Alcohol-based mouthwashes can be drying and may not be suitable for individuals with dry mouth. Opt for alcohol-free options if needed.
  • Don't Swallow: Be careful not to swallow mouthwash, as it is not meant to be ingested. Some mouthwashes can be toxic if swallowed in large quantities.
  • Consult Your Dentist: If you're unsure about which mouthwash to use or if it's appropriate for your oral health needs, consult your dentist. They can provide personalized recommendations based on your specific situation.

She concluded, “Using mouthwash as part of a comprehensive oral hygiene routine can be beneficial for your oral health by helping to kill bacteria, freshen breath, reduce plaque, and support gum health. However, it should not be used as a substitute for brushing and flossing, and it's essential to choose the right mouthwash for your needs and use it according to the instructions. Regular dental check-ups and consultations with your dentist can also help you make informed decisions about your oral care routine.”

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