Family dentists recommend using mouthwash as part of an everyday oral hygiene routine. Brushing gets rid of most of the food particles, plaque and bacteria on teeth, flossing gets rid of all three things in interdental spaces, while mouthwash gets rid of anything left behind. Mouthwash also helps to re-mineralize teeth and it reduces bacteria that freshens the breath.
Mouthwash is a liquid, which makes it easier to reach all of the hard to reach areas of the mouth, thus another reason that a family dentist recommends the use of it on a regular basis.
Why a family dentist recommends using mouthwash
Each person's mouth serves as the home of millions of bacteria. Most of these germs are harmless, but some can lead to dental or general health issues. Some of the bacteria that live in the mouth feast on food particles left behind after eating and they excrete acids that eat away at teeth enamel.
Over time, these acids can damage teeth structures, leading to holes called cavities. These can be easily treated with fillings by a family dentist, however, it is better to avoid them altogether. When left unaddressed, a cavity will continue to expand until it reaches inner layers of the tooth like the pulp chamber. It leaves the soft tissues exposed to oral bacteria, making the tooth vulnerable to infection. An infected tooth is typically treated with a root canal, but it might require extraction if there is a risk of the infection spreading into the bloodstream.
Brushing and flossing help to remove plaque and acids that coat teeth, and mouthwash does the same. However, therapeutic mouthwashes have chemicals in them that kill the type of bacteria that lead to tooth decay and infections. It provides an additional layer of protection that is not achievable from brushing and flossing alone.
Some mouthwashes contain alcohol, while others use other chemicals to attack bacteria. Additionally, some are re-mineralized with fluoride to help keep the teeth enamel strong and repair minor damage. Family dentists recommend avoiding products that contain alcohol since these tend to dry out the mouth. Also, some people find alcoholic mouthwashes to be too harsh on soft tissues in their mouths like their cheeks or tongue.
Alternatives to mouthwash
There are some other ways to disinfect the mouth without using mouthwash. Outlined below are a few that a family dentist recommends.
- Saltwater: Saltwater rinses are an effective way to reduce oral bacteria. Simply mix a few tablespoons of salt with warm water and swish it around the mouth.
- Oil pulling: Oils like coconut oil can be swished around the mouth just like one would do with mouthwash. Coconut oil is a bacteriostatic liquid, which means bacteria cannot grow on anything coated with it.
- Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide can be mixed with water and used to disinfect the mouth. It kills bacteria and it also has a whitening effect on teeth.
Consult with a family dentist
Rinsing the mouth with mouthwash a couple of times a day helps to keep dangerous bacteria under control. Call or visit our Bellevue office to learn more about how to keep teeth healthy.
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