Why should you use a Mouthwash? : Guide to Mouthwash

A mouthwash isn’t an essential part of cleaning your teeth. Brushing and flossing your teeth is considered much more important. Many dentists view a mouthwash as an extra way of cleaning your teeth but to be used in conjunction with a toothbrush and dental floss.

Nevertheless, it is important to adopt a good daily dental regime which includes the following:

  • Brushing the teeth and using a fluoride toothpaste
  • Flossing the teeth
  • Using a mouthwash
  • Reducing intake of sweet/sugary foods
  • Having regular check ups at the dentist

A daily routine will keep your teeth clean and healthy and prevent the risk of tooth decay or gum disease, e.g. gingivitis. Brushing the teeth twice a day, using dental floss to clean between the teeth and rinsing away the debris with a mouthwash will stop the build up of plaque.

Plaque is a sticky film which forms on the surface of the teeth and if not removed can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. It can even result in tooth loss.

Brushing and flossing the teeth are effective means of preventing any of this but a mouthwash provides a little bit of extra help. Plus it makes your breath smell nice and fresh.

If you are not sure about which mouthwash to use then ask your dentist’s advice. He or she will be able to recommend a few but will probably advise you to avoid alcohol based mouthwashes.

He/she may also investigate the reason behind your using a mouthwash as there could be an underlying condition.

If you use a mouthwash then do so after you have brushed and flossed your teeth. Pour a small mount into a glass and swill it thoroughly around your mouth until you have rinsed away the debris.

Problems of using a mouthwash

Mouthwashes contain high levels of acidity so can cause an irritation in anyone who suffers from heartburn or acid reflux. If you suffer from either of these then choose a mouthwash which has a neutral balance rather than an acidic type.

The main issue raised in regard to mouthwashes is that of cancer.

Mouthwash and cancer

A research study has claimed that there is evidence of a link between alcohol-based mouthwashes and an increased risk of mouth cancer.

(Source: NHS Choices: Health News: reported in the Daily Telegraph Jan 2009).

The findings suggest that there may be a risk of this happening but further research is needed to fully establish if there is a link or not. But according to sources at both Cancer Research UK and the British Dental Health Foundation, there is not enough evidence to prove that there is such a risk.

(Source: BUPA: health information: 16 Jan 2009)

It has been suggested that there could be other factors responsible for this such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption or poor dental health in general. In other words, these are the likely triggers for mouth cancer rather than the mouthwash.

This issue is still open to debate.

If you are still concerned about this issue then there is an alternative. There are non-alcohol based mouthwashes such as the herbal variety which don’t have that stigma and are pleasant to use.

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