Mouthwash reduces your risk for cavities, freshens your breath, and minimizes plaque buildup. However, you can only expect these benefits when you rinse your mouth the right way. Rinsing with mouthwash seems like a straightforward process, but you can actually make some mistakes.
Make sure you get the most from mouthwash products. Learn what common rinsing mistakes that people make so you can avoid them.
Failing to Research Options
All mouthwash solutions aren't the same. Do your research before you buy any product. You can start with a quick review of the ingredient label. Avoid solutions that are mostly made up of dye or flavoring additives. These solutions might taste good and make your breath smell fresh. However, they often do little to protect you.
A quality mouthwash will contain ingredients like ammonia compounds, detergents, or fluoride. Ammonia compounds such as cetylpyridinium chloride kill harmful bacteria. Detergents such as sodium benzoate loosen plaque.
Fluoride prevents cavities and protects the enamel on your teeth. Speak with a dentist if you have conditions like periodontal disease or tooth sensitivity. A prescription mouthwash might be best for your needs.
Rinsing Too Quickly
A quick 5- or 10-second swish around the mouth does little to protect your mouth, teeth, and gums. Yes, the ingredients in mouthwash are powerful, but they don't work instantly. A good starting point is somewhere between 30 and 60 seconds of active swishing.
Rinsing for 30 seconds or more gives the active ingredients in the mouthwash ample time to work. Following this suggested timeline also ensures the solution covers more of your mouth. Read the label on your mouthwash, as it may have different instructions.
Do you have a hard time keeping your mouthwash in long enough because it burns? Switch to an alcohol-free solution. Alcohol causes a burning effect and may cause dry mouth. Several companies offer alcohol-free solutions. Speak with a provider to see if there is an underlying condition causing the discomfort as well.
Putting Your Mouth on the Bottle
Never put your mouth directly on the mouthwash bottle. Bathrooms are home to all sorts of bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus. Staphylococcus aureus can lead to skin irritation and in extreme cases, blood poisoning. You can introduce all kinds of germs into your mouth when you put your mouth on the bottle.
If you have a cold or another virus, you can transfer germs and cross contaminate the mouthwash solution. You spread 2x the germs if you share the bottle with your partner.
Use the bottle lid to measure the solution. However, you should always pour the mouthwash into a disposable cup. Follow the same practice if you use mouthwash to clean your toothbrush. Toothbrushes also contain their fair share of bacteria.
Only Rinsing Occasionally
Rinsing with mouthwash should be a regular part of your oral health routine. Rinsing your mouth only occasionally makes mouth washing less effective. Mouthwash can only target but so much bacteria at one time. The less you rinse, the more bacteria you will have in your mouth.
You'll probably have some harmful bacteria left over in your mouth even when you do finally rinse. Use mouthwash each time you brush your teeth. However, if you drink or eat something that is highly acidic or sugary, you might want to rinse right after. Buy a small bottle of mouthwash you can keep in your bag or at your desk to rinse whenever you need.
Practice good mouth-washing habits to keep your teeth healthier. Contact the dental office of Steven Devins, DDS, for more rinsing techniques, or to discuss any other oral health concerns. We're here to help you keep your smile healthy.