Matthew Vogel, DMD
Practicing quality oral hygiene remains a vital part of maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. Failing to brush twice a day and floss daily allows plaque, a stick biofilm comprised of harmful bacteria and lingering food particles, to buildup in the mouth. Consuming sugars and starches provides plaque with the fuel it needs to produce harmful compounds that damage the health of tooth enamel. A post by the best choice for pediatric dentistry Gresham has – Gresham Smile Design.
Given time, plaque can wear small grooves into tooth enamel where bacteria can begin to accumulate. This buildup of bacteria contributes to the development of decay and gum disease, which presents a serious risk to your long-term oral health. Gum disease ranks as the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, and one out of every four seniors in the U.S. has lost all of their permanent teeth, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
For years, dentists have recommended that patients use an antibacterial mouthwash as part of their nightly oral hygiene routine. Due to the number of hard to reach cracks and crevices found in patient’s mouth, the regular use of mouthwash at night was thought a great way to eliminate plaque from spots missed when brushing. However, recent research has begun to suggest that the incorrect use of mouthwash may not only fail to protect the health of a person’s teeth, it may contribute to the development of tooth decay.
A Changing Perception
A study recently published by the National Institute of Health’s National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests that the use of mouthwash following brushing may reduce the body’s ability to retain and utilize the fluoride contained in toothpaste.
After conducting a single-blind study that required study participants to use a fluoridated mouthwash following brushing, researchers found that the available amount of usable fluoride that remained in the saliva of participants following the use of a mouthwash was considerably lower when compared to brushing alone. This suggests that some of the benefits of using toothpaste with fluoride are lost should an individual use mouthwash immediately following brushing.
While the results of this study may seem to cast serious doubts on whether a person should still use mouthwash, studies published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry have shown that using an antibacterial mouthwash twice daily can significantly reduce plaque buildup and the development of gingivitis. So what, if any, role does the use of mouthwash play in maintaining healthy teeth and gums?
A New Use for Mouthwash
To reconcile how these studies depict the benefits of mouthwash, researchers suggest a change in the way most people typically use a nightly rinse.
Instead of using mouthwash at night after brushing, your oral health stands to benefit more from using mouthwash twice during the day, ideally shortly after eating breakfast and lunch.
Using a mouthwash following these meals would help to remove lingering food particles that can remain in the mouth after a meal, while also reducing the amount of plaque that has built up in the mouth since brushing in the morning. Rinsing with mouthwash following a meal can also help to control bad breath that might stem from the consumption of such pungent foods as onions, garlic, cured meats, pickled vegetables, etc.
In these situations, mouthwash can help to improve your oral health without negating the positive effects using toothpaste with fluoride has on your teeth and gums.
The findings of this study also help to reinforce the notion that while mouthwash can help to protect a person’s oral health when used correctly, it shouldn’t be considered a viable alternative to practicing quality oral hygiene daily. Brushing and flossing, along with regular dental care visits, still amount to the best way to prevent tooth decay and the need to see a periodontist, a type of dentist who specializes in the treatment of gum disease.