Did you know that there are ways you can help keep cavities at bay and improve your oral health in the comfort of your home? Although undergoing professional cleanings biannually are certainly important, you can lower your risk for tooth decay and gum disease by implementing an at-home oral care regimen.
Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily are the two most important, but rinsing with mouthwash can also eliminate harmful bacteria from the mouth. Even though it’s perhaps the simplest and least expensive, only 30 percent of adults use mouthwash.
Maybe you’re one of the few who do rinse with a mouthwash, but what standards do you follow when selecting your mouthwash? Dr. Clint Newman, a dentist in Nashville, TN, discusses simple steps for finding the right mouthwash and why it’s so important to select the best product for your needs.
Identify Your Oral Health Challenges and Look for Key Ingredients
Much like toothpastes and toothbrushes, not all mouthwashes are created equal. Before selecting your mouthwash, identify your trouble areas so you can make sure you find one that benefits you the most.
Some of the more common challenges include:
- Chronic Bad Breath: It is estimated that more than 50 million Americans suffer from chronic bad breath.Bad breath is usually an identifier of something deeper going on below the surface, such as untreated bacteria or plaque build up between teeth. Brushing and flossing your teeth and using a tongue scraper will certainly help, but be sure and visit the dentist for professional cleanings every six months. The mouthwash you select should contain ingredients, such as chlorine dioxide (sodium chlorite) and zinc compounds, which are clinically proven to be effective in treating bad breath.
- Plaque Build up and Cavities: If you are prone to cavities, or simply want to take extra precaution in preventing them, look for a mouthwash that contains fluoride. This will protect the enamel and help counteract plaque build up. Other active ingredients to look for on the label include: thymol, triclosan, and cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC).
- Dry Mouth: This condition is often caused by age and certain medications. If you suffer from dry mouth, be sure and avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes, as these can exacerbate the issue and lead to additional problems.
- Dental Sensitivity: You want to take extra care with sensitive teeth. In addition to using sensitive toothpaste, find a natural, alcohol-free mouthwash that contains ingredients such as arginine, potassium citrate, or potassium nitrate; these are known for helping with sensitivity. Abrasive toothpastes and mouthwashes can permanently damage your enamel and cause increased dental sensitivity.
- Gum Disease: When gum disease has been identified, you will need a prescription-strength or antibacterial mouthwash that focuses on treating inflammation and infection along the gum line.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
When meeting with your dentist, ask him or her for help in finding the right mouthwash. A dentist-approved mouthwash will not only produce better results but also provide peace of mind. Your dentist may even recommend a prescription mouthwash with stronger ingredients to help reduce bacterial infection, treat infection, and address halitosis (chronic bad breath).
Evaluate Your At-home Oral Hygiene Regimen
Rinsing with a mouthwash should never be used as a substitute for brushing or flossing your teeth. Your at-home oral hygiene regimen should include:
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day.
- Flossing daily.
- Rinsing with a dentist-approved mouthwash after flossing or after meals to keep breath fresh during the day.
Are you unsure of how to proceed in your oral care? Please schedule a consultation today with Dr. Newman. We would be glad to partner with you in maintaining your beautiful smile. In addition to oral care education, we offer a wide range of general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry services.