It’s time for another installment of Antoine Dental Center’s regular dental blog. We like to think everyone in Houston is as excited and engaged with oral health care and modern dentistry as we are. Even if you aren’t thinking of the health of your teeth all day every day, oral health is no doubt a topic of occasional discussion. Certainly, you sometimes worry about cavities, and you’ve probably evaluated your smile in the mirror a time or two.
But how often do you think about gum disease?
If gum disease has never crossed your mind, then it should. Next to tooth decay, gum disease is the most common oral health issue people seek treatment for. In fact, tooth decay and gum disease are so intertwined, if you see one, you will likely see the other.
Luckily, preventing tooth decay and gum disease requires essentially the same habits. A healthy oral hygiene routine will keep your mouth clear of the bacteria that cause both ailments. Brushing and flossing twice a day is a simple way to keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay, and you’ve almost certainly been doing that since you were old enough to hold a toothbrush.
But what about mouthwash? What does it do to protect your oral health? Will it fight the bacteria that causes tooth decay gum disease, or will only freshen your breath?
That all depends on what type of mouthwash you are using. Some mouthwashes are designed to combat various threats to your dental health, while others are more concerned with providing fresh breath.
What’s In Your Mouthwash?
What your mouthwash does for you depends entirely upon its active ingredients. Take a moment to read the label of your mouthwash to see if it has what you need.
Chlorhexidine – This ingredient has proven to be very effective in fighting both tooth decay and gum disease. It actually instantly kills the dangerous bacteria that likes to hide out in your mouth. It also acts as an anti inflammatory, which makes it very effective at treating the early stages of gum disease, which is characterized by red and swollen gums.
Mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine would be the obvious choice for daily use if it were not for one thing, repeated use of the chemical can leave brown stains on your teeth. These stains are not necessarily unhealthy, but they don’t look very nice. Thankfully, newer mouthwashes are designing mixtures that will provide the health benefits of chlorhexidine without the stains.
Cetylpyridinium – The popular and well known mouthwash Scope use this chemical as it’s main ingredient. Cetylpyridinium has some antibacterial powers, but not nearly as much as chlorhexidine. Cetylpyridinium is primarily used to combat halitosis, also known as really bad breath, which it is very good at. But if you’re looking for more than fresh breath, look elsewhere.
Hydrogen peroxide – This well known antibacterial is not only effective at killing germs, the foaming action it produces also scrubs your teeth and gums free of any debris. Unfortunately, prolonged and repeated usage of hydrogen peroxide can actually damage your teeth and gums, so it is typically only used as a short term, intensive treatment.
Alcohol – It is best to avoid mouthwashes containing alcohol, as they have been shown t have very little effect on gum disease and tooth decay. For the most part, alcohol is just used in mouthwash as carrier and to provide a little burn so the mouthwash actually feels like it is doing something, even when it is not.
Don’t Neglect Other forms of Oral Hygiene
Using effective mouthwash with beneficial active ingredients is only part of a healthy oral hygiene routine. It should not replace brushing and flossing, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can eat whatever junk you want to without any negative consequences.
The right kind of mouthwash, however, can be a very healthy addition to your tooth care toolbox. Visit our office in Houston and we will help you decide what kind of mouthwash works best for your needs. At Antoine Dental Center we are absolutely dedicated to providing you with the quality dental care you need to stay healthy and looking great.
Contact us today to schedule an appointment.