If you’ve ever walked the oral care aisles of any drugstore, you know that there are many different types of mouthwash. Some tout their germ-killing abilities, others emphasize their fluoride content, and some claim to whiten teeth while freshening the breath. These are all great benefits, but will they help meet your oral care needs?
Many individuals wonder if daily mouthwash should be part of their dental routine. Brushing and flossing are the two critical habits that have the most significant influence on dental health, so if you’re doing these two things, is mouthwash required?
I’m dentist Brian Kruchoski of Alaska Premier Dental Group in Anchorage. When my dental patients ask about mouthwash, I tell them that as long as they follow the instructions for use on the bottle, mouthwash may slightly benefit dental health, even if it doesn’t live up to every promise as marketed. Rinsing with a mouthwash that contains fluoride can’t hurt your teeth, but allowing a bit of diluted toothpaste to stay on tooth surfaces after brushing probably has the same benefit.
Individuals who suffer from bad breath often believe that mouthwash can solve the issue. Actually, mouthwashes that contain alcohol can worsen the problem because they can cause dry mouth—a condition that can worsen bad breath. Mouthwashes without alcohol are ordinarily more efficient for freshening breath. These products are usually called fluoride rinses.
If you have chronic bad breath, however, you should have your teeth checked for plaque build-up. No amount of mouthwash can remedy a mouth full of plaque. If your teeth and gums are healthy and you still suffer from bad breath, it’s important to determine the cause. Bad breath can be an indication of a physical condition, so see your physician soon.
Bottom line? Never substitute mouthwash for proper brushing and flossing. And if you use mouthwash, select a brand that contains fluoride and no alcohol.
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My practice, Alaska Premier Dental Group, provides quality dental care to our valued patients. If you are interested in making an appointment, please call us at 907-337-0404. A member of my professional staff can answer any questions you have about our services.
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