Walk down the dental aisle at your local drug store and you will see quite a few mouthwash products on the shelves, all of which are claiming to boost the health of your mouth. If you have never been one to swish mouthwash on a regular basis, you may begin to question if mouthwash is a necessary part of oral health and if you need to add it to your daily routine. The answer is both yes and no.
Mouthwash does help fight gum disease. An antibacterial mouthwash that contains alcohol or chlorhexidine can help prevent periodontal disease because it fights infections that develop when the gums and tooth sockets become inflamed. So, yes, if you have mild gum disease (gingivitis) and do not floss on a daily basis, mouthwash is a great addition to your daily oral health hygiene routine.
Mouthwash fights and prevents cavities. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and increases their ability to prevent the development of cavities. For those who do not have dental sealants on their premolars and/or back molars, mouthwash can give extra protection to these teeth that are more prone to developing cavities.
Mouthwash protects pregnant women. Pregnant women are more prone to periodontal disease due to the huge fluctuation that their hormones go through in a relatively short amount of time. Periodontal disease is a risk factor for preterm birth and low-weight babies. Bacteria in the mouth from periodontal disease can easily travel through the blood stream and increase inflammatory markers which can stimulate contractions. Using mouthwash helps pregnant women fight against the development of gum disease, thus making them less likely to go into early labor.
So, is mouthwash really necessary? Well, if you are an avid tooth brusher and you floss at least once a day, then there really are no “extra” benefits of mouthwash and it is not a necessary component of your oral health care routine. However, if you do not floss on a daily basis, routinely skip brushing your teeth, and/or are pregnant – the answer is yes. Adding mouthwash as an additional step to your oral health routine can benefit you. Of course, mouthwash is not meant to be a substitute for brushing or flossing, but it can provide added benefits and promote a healthy mouth.