How To Get The Best Results Out Of Using Mouthwash

How To Get The Best Results Out Of Using Mouthwash

Maintaining a healthy smile goes beyond a pearly white grin. It’s about keeping your mouth fresh, free of plaque and gingivitis, and preventing bad breath.  While brushing and flossing are the cornerstones of good oral hygiene, applying mouthwash can be a valuable addition to your routine. But are you using mouthwash to its full potential?

This blog delves into the world of mouthwash, exploring its benefits, different types available, and the most effective ways to incorporate it into your oral care regimen. By the end, you’ll be a mouthwash master, swishing your way to a healthier, fresher smile.

Understanding Mouthwash: Beyond Just Freshening Breath

While freshening breath is a welcome benefit, mouthwash offers a range of advantages for your oral health. Here is a summary of some important advantages:

Reduces Plaque and Gingivitis: 

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. Left unchecked, it can harden into tartar (calculus), which irritates the gums and leads to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). Certain mouthwashes contain ingredients like chlorhexidine or cetylpyridinium chloride that help reduce plaque and fight gingivitis.

Kills Bacteria:  

Mouthwash can help reduce the overall bacterial load in your mouth. This can be particularly beneficial after brushing and flossing, reaching areas that your toothbrush might miss.

Strengthens Teeth: 

Some mouthwashes contain fluoride, a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent cavities.

Provides Additional Benefits:  

There are mouthwashes formulated for specific needs, such as addressing dry mouth, canker sores, or halitosis (persistent bad breath).

  • Important Note:  Using mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing and flossing. It should be used in conjunction with a thorough brushing routine (twice a day for two minutes) and daily flossing to achieve optimal oral hygiene.

Choosing the Right Mouthwash for You: A Supermarket Aisle Odyssey

The oral care aisle can be overwhelming with a plethora of mouthwash options.  Here’s a guide to help you make your way through the options:

Antiseptic Mouthwashes: 

These are the most common type and contain ingredients that kill bacteria. They are effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis, but some can cause mouth dryness or irritation with prolonged use.

Fluoride Mouthwashes: 

These contain fluoride, which strengthens tooth enamel and helps prevent cavities. They are a good choice for those at high risk of cavities or who don’t use fluoridated toothpaste.

Alcohol-Free Mouthwashes:  

These are a good option for those who experience dryness or irritation from alcohol-containing mouthwashes. They may not be quite as strong as antiseptic mouthwashes, but they still offer some benefits.

Therapeutic Mouthwashes: 

These are formulated for specific concerns like dry mouth, canker sores, or bad breath.  They may contain ingredients like xylitol to increase saliva flow, or soothing agents for canker sores.

Talk to Your Dentist:  

An Austin dentist can help you choose the right mouthwash for your individual needs and oral health goals. They can also advise you on the appropriate frequency and duration of use.

Swishing with Success: Mastering the Art of Using Mouthwash

Now that you’ve chosen your champion mouthwash, let’s get down to the swishing business! Here’s how to ensure you’re getting the most out of applying mouthwash:

Timing is Key: 

Use mouthwash after brushing and flossing. Brushing and flossing remove food particles and plaque, allowing the mouthwash to reach areas  uncleaned by brushing and target remaining bacteria. Avoid using mouthwash immediately after brushing, as it can wash away the beneficial fluoride from toothpaste. Aim for a 30-minute window between brushing and applying mouth rinse.

Measure Matters:  

Don’t eyeball it! Most mouthwashes recommend using a specific amount, typically around 20 milliliters (about 4 teaspoons). Using too much won’t necessarily be more effective and might cause irritation.

The Swishing Symphony: 

Swish vigorously for the recommended time, usually 30 to 60 seconds. Make sure to swish the mouthwash around your entire mouth, reaching all the nooks and crannies between your teeth and along your gum line. Don’t forget to swish under your tongue, where bacteria love to hide.

Spit, Don’t Swallow: 

This might seem obvious, but it’s important! Mouth rinse is not meant to be swallowed. Swallowing it can cause stomach upset or disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in your mouth.

Maximizing the Benefits of Mouthwash: Dos and Don’ts

Here are some additional tips to ensure you’re using mouthwash effectively and safely:

Don’t Use Mouthwash Right Before Eating or Drinking:  

Using mouthwash too close to a meal or drink can wash away the beneficial effects.  Wait at least 30 minutes after applying mouthwash before eating or drinking anything other than water.

Don’t Use Mouth rinse Undiluted (if applicable):  

Some mouthwashes, particularly those with a high alcohol content, are meant to be diluted with water. Check the label for instructions. Using them undiluted can cause irritation.

Don’t Skimp on Brushing and Flossing:  

Remember, mouthwash is not a replacement for brushing and flossing. It’s an additional tool to enhance your oral hygiene routine. Continue to brush twice a day for two minutes and floss daily.

Be Mindful of Age Restrictions:  

Some mouthwashes, particularly those containing certain antiseptics, are not recommended for young children.  Always check the label for age restrictions and consult your dentist if you have any concerns.

Talk to Your Dentist About Long-Term Use:  

While mouthwash is generally safe for most people when used correctly,  long-term use of certain types (particularly those with high alcohol content) can sometimes disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in your mouth.  Discuss your mouthwash routine with your dentist, especially if you’ve been using it for a long time.

Potential Side Effects and Who Should Avoid Using Mouthwash

While mouthwash is generally safe and beneficial for most people, there can be some potential side effects:

  • Dry Mouth:  Alcohol-containing mouthwashes can cause dryness and irritation. If you experience this, consider switching to an alcohol-free mouthwash.
  • Staining:  Certain mouthwashes, particularly those containing chlorhexidine, can stain teeth.  Regular brushing and professional cleanings can help minimize staining.
  • Altered Taste Perception:  Mouthwash can temporarily alter your taste buds. This is usually temporary and should resolve shortly after use.

In some cases, applying mouthwash might not be recommended:

  • Young Children:  Children under the age of six may not be able to spit properly and could accidentally swallow the mouthwash.
  • People with Certain Medical Conditions:  If you have certain medical conditions, such as mouth sores or pre-existing gum disease, consult your dentist before applying mouth rinse.

Maintaining a Healthy Smile: Brushing, Flossing, and Swishing Together

A healthy smile is a beautiful smile. By incorporating brushing, flossing, and using mouth rinse correctly into your daily routine, you’re taking control of your oral health.  Remember:

  • Brushing: Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Flossing: Floss on a daily basis to get food particles and plaque out from between your teeth.
  • Mouthwash: Use mouthwash after brushing and flossing to target remaining bacteria and freshen your breath.

Schedule Regular Dental Checkups

Regular dental checkups and cleanings are crucial for maintaining good oral health. Your dentist can assess your oral health, provide personalized advice, and identify any potential problems early on.

By following these tips and recommendations, you can transform your mouth rinse routine from a simple wish to a powerful tool for a healthier, fresher smile.  Remember, consulting your Austin dentist is your best resource for personalized guidance on achieving and maintaining optimal oral health.