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 vital habits that have the greatest influence on dental health, so if you’re doing these two things, is mouthwash required?
I’m Dr. Richard Kernagis of Kernagis Dental Excellence in Tampa. 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 effect.
People who suffer from bad breath often believe that mouthwash can solve the problem. Actually, mouthwashes that contain alcohol can worsen the problem because they can cause dry mouth—a condition that can contribute to bad breath. Mouthwashes without alcohol are commonly more efficient for freshening breath. These products are often called fluoride rinses.
If you have persistent bad breath, however, you should have your teeth analyzed 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 confirm 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, Kernagis Dental Excellence, provides quality dental care to our valued patients. If you are interested in making an appointment, please call us at 813-321-3261. A member of my comfortable staff can answer any questions you have about our services.
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