Is mouthwash safe to use?

When it comes to good oral hygiene, the rule is to brush twice and floss daily (and to visit your dentist regularly). But have you ever heard any dentist say “Use mouthwash daily to maintain good oral hygiene”. Yet it’s funny how most people still manage to make this a part of their daily oral hygiene regimen.

It’s Valentine’s day and I’m sure everyone is relying heavily on their mouthwashes and breath fresheners today. But bad breath is an indicator that something is not right in your body. You may be having an overload of bacteria in the calculus on your teeth, causing inflammation of your gums. Or you may be having a dry mouth due to an underlying medical condition like Sjogren’s syndrome. Or it may just be the colds, making you breathe through your mouth (since your nose is blocked), drying it up and causing the bad breath. Whatever it may be, treat the root cause, don’t cover up the symptoms.

Visit your dentist and see if your oral hygiene is good. If not, you can definitely have bad breath, which should be relieved after you get a scaling, followed by good oral hygiene. If the bad breath doesn’t go away, you need to check with your physician for any underlying medical conditions. If you are having dry mouth due to a medical problem, salivary replacements are available to help keep your mouth moist.

Mouthwash was originally designed as an antiseptic for surgery. Dentists prescribe them for a fixed period of time to prevent gum disease after treatment and to keep the area aseptic until healing as occurred. They act by dispensing the active component of the medicine to all areas of the mouth in a rinsing solution. Nowadays they are available as 2 types: antiseptic and anti-cavity mouth rinsing solutions.

The antiseptic mouthwashes are used as adjuvants to treatment of infection in the gums and the area surrounding the teeth. As this area is vital to the health of your teeth, the significance of maintaining good oral hygiene can never be overstated. There is a controversy regarding the alcohol present in mouthwashes as to whether they are co-related with increased risk for developing oral cancer. But  the matter remains controversial, the argument being the alcohol present in mouthwashes comes in contact with the mouth, only for a short period. Also, the people who most frequently use mouthwashes are also those who smoke and intake alcohol. These groups of people are at a higher risk for oral cancer to begin with.

The anti-cavity mouthwashes have fluoride in them as the active ingredient, which reinforces the tooth’s antibacterial action. These are now being available in the market as the alcohol-free brands of mouthwashes.

There are mouthwashes with clorhexidine gluconate as an active component . These have a tendency to stain teeth and dentures as they are retained for some time by the tissues of your mouth. So use them only as prescribed by your dentist.

Do you use mouthwash everyday? Take a break for a week and see if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above. Better yet, visit your dentist and get yourself checked.

And oh yeah, Happy Valentine’s Day! :)

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