The history of mouthwash goes back centuries. People have used mouth rinses made with a variety of unique ingredients, such as dill dissolved in white wine. In the 19th century, Listerine was developed, but it was originally designed to be used as a surgical antiseptic. The modern ones contain ingredients ranging from alcohol to sweeteners. Truth be told, everyone loves the minty or fruity kick that comes from mouthwash and it does make your breath smell better for a while. But, are the claims true that mouthwash is good for your oral hygiene?
Therapeutic or Cosmetic Mouthwash
It is used for a variety of reasons, including freshening breath, reducing plaque, reducing gingivitis, controlling tooth decay and/or a combination of effects. There are clearly some benefits when using it; however, it is important to know that not all them are the same. They are typically classified as either being therapeutic or cosmetic.
- Therapeutic which contains ingredients that are designed to provide protection against some oral problems. The therapeutic mouthwash should be one that is regulated by the FDA and approved by the American Dental Association. Therapeutic mouthwash is also categorized into types according to its intended use, which is either antiplaque/anti-gingivitis or anti-cavity/fluoride.
- Cosmetic which is only meant to temporarily control or reduce bad breath. Cosmetic mouthwashes do not deal with the cause of bad breath, they simply mask the odor.
Should You or Should You Not Use Mouthwash?
The use of mouthwash is basically personal preference and one that you should discuss with your dentist, especially if you have dental problems. The most important thing is that it should not be used as a substitute for brushing and flossing. If you choose to use them, it is important to use the best product for your specific needs. For example:
- If you are worried about cavities, mouth rinses do not promise to prevent cavities; however, using a mouthwash that contains fluoride, after brushing, may help to reduce the risk of getting cavities.
- If you are concerned about bad breath, the best solution is to brush your tongue when you are brushing your teeth. Cosmetic ones can be used to freshen breath temporarily, but you should only use it twice each day. A sugar-free breath mint can be eaten throughout the day for extra protection against bad breath.
- Anti-plaque, anti-gingivitis or antibacterial ones may be beneficial in reducing the germs that cause gum disease and/or infections. It is recommended that you talk to your dentist for information about the best therapeutic mouthwash for your needs.
To mouthwash or not is up to the individual. The good news is that if you choose to use it, there is no serious risk of damage to your teeth or gums. However, it is extremely important to keep in mind that mouthwash is not a substitute for good oral hygiene. Brushing twice a day, flossing at least once and visiting your dentist for routine exams are the best ways to keep your oral hygiene in check.