Do I Need to Use Mouthwash?

A question we get asked every day at Bite Dental, is “do I need a mouthwash” and the answer to this question is yes, but it is a personal decision, and I thought I would share with you the following article, which might answer the question for you.

Ask Dr. James Jacobs

Do I Need to Use Mouthwash?

Q: Are mouthwashes necessary for good oral health? And if so, what types are the best?

I look at mouthwash as an added positive habit to help with oral health. The following are reasons why mouthwashes are advantageous:

1. A mouthwash with fluoride will help reduce cavities and periodontal disease.

2. Using mouthwash in general, even if doesn’t have fluoride, can help reduce periodontal disease.

3. It can make your mouth feel fresh and smell better.

4. Mouthwash can reduce the quantity and quality of the dental plaque and/or bacteria in your mouth.

Having enumerated the benefits of mouthwash, it is important to note that it should not be relied upon solely for good oral health. Rather, I believe it should be the final step in the oral hygiene process both in the morning and in the evening.

It is critical not to dilute a fluoride mouthwash with water after use. By diluting it with water, some fluoride is prevented from coating the teeth. Therefore, I usually recommend that patients clean their mouths entirely and then, at the very end, use the mouth rinse, spit it out, and go to sleep, or leave the house for the day. Mouthwash helps patients who have a high cavity index — fluoride mouth rinse would be perfect for such a person. The advantage of fluoride is that it fights bacterial plaque as well as puts fluoride back into the surfaces of the teeth to fight sensitivity and cavities.

For my patients who have recently had dental sores or dental surgery and cannot clean their teeth the way they normally would, I prescribe a mouth rinse called Peridex, which I also recommend to fight periodontal disease. I usually prescribe this rinse after surgery for 1 to 2 weeks to stand in place of the brushing and flossing that cannot be done at that time due to pain. Mouth rinses can also help patients who have dry mouth, periodontal disease, and dental sensitivity issues.

It is important to be trained by your dentist or dental hygienist on how to perform the proper hygiene for your mouth. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day (and possibly using some other type of between-the-teeth cleansing, such as rubber tipping or a proxybrush) is important for everyone.

Learn more in the Everyday Health Dental Health Center.

Dr. Jacobs, a former assistant clinical professor of Periodontics at the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, is now in private practice in New York.

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