Conventional and Natural Mouthwashes


When to use mouthwash?

Do you regularly brush your teeth twice daily and floss at least once daily? Do you think that using a mouthwash will be overkill? The fact is that using a mouthwash is not the same as other oral care. For one thing, if you have bad breath, you may want to use mouthwash to help eliminate mouth odor. For the other, a mouthwash can reach places where the brush and floss cannot.

What are the uses of a mouthwash?

A mouthwash is of great help to freshen breath in between meals, when you may not be able to brush. It is also a complement to brushing and flossing and is easy to use as well. If you suffer from gum disease, gingivitis or receding gums, the gap between your teeth may increase and using a mouthwash will help keep the mouth clean and the breath fresh.

Types of mouthwashes

 All mouthwashes are not created equal and there is a wide range of mouthwashes now available. To help clear the confusion, here are some details of the different mouthwashes that you can find in your supermarket or pharmacy, some of them requiring a prescription. If you find it difficult to choose the right one this information that will help you narrow down your choice:

Daily use mouthwashes

These are your over the counter mouthwashes that flood the supermarket. These are used primarily to freshen the breath. Using a mouthwash can help dislodge debris and food particles that find a home in spaces in the mouth, as long as you swirl them well and rinse your mouth to clean the spaces.

A mouthwash will keep your teeth and gums cleaner and reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease that are caused by the food particles left in the mouth. These become a source of bad breath and also lead to tooth decay. You may get a mouthwash with fluoride, a mouthwash that contains alcohol and alcohol-free mouthwash. Most have a minty or other fresh flavor and are sweet tasting.

Therapeutic mouthwashes

Therapeutic or medical grade mouthwashes contain various ingredients that help combat disease like gingivitis, oral mucositis and periodontal disease as they have an anti-bacterial effect.

Active ingredients that may be used in therapeutic mouthwash include cetylpyridinium chloride, chlorhexidine, peroxide and/or fluoride.

  • Cetylpyridinium chloride is a potent antiseptic as it kills bacteria and other germs and is quite effective.

  • Chlorhexidine gluconate is also a strong antiseptic that helps prevent dental plaque and treating yeast infections in the mouth.

  • Fluoride is a naturally found mineral and helps in re-mineralizing teeth when added to mouthwash. It reduces the risk of developing dental plaque and helps prevent tooth decay.

Both cetylpyridinium chloride and chlorhexidine gluconate help with gingivitis and dental plaque. Mouthwashes with these ingredients should not be used for more than 4 weeks at a time as there is a risk of developing dental stains as well as damage to the mouth lining.

However, strong and antiseptic mouthwashes will kill off all the germs in the mouth, even the good ones as they cannot differentiate. Once the good bacteria also die, the bad bacteria can return in greater numbers, intensifying your bad breath and your gum problems. So do use therapeutic mouthwashes with care and under the dentist’s advice. If you are buying a mouthwash for medical reasons, try and get one that carries the ADA seal of acceptance.


Natural mouthwashes

Worried about the adverse effect of chemical and therapeutic mouthwashes? Or perhaps you just don’t want to use chemicals? There are a number of natural mouthwashes that you can use if you have inflamed or bleeding gums or a minor gum infection or simply want to add a mouthwash to your oral care routine.

These mouthwashes are chemical free and do not contain ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate and triclosan that have both received bad press lately. Natural mouthwashes contain ingredients that are natural and unusually organic and plant-based.

As they do not contain alcohol or harsh chemicals but use natural antiseptic ingredients they are safer to use, particularly if you have sensitive teeth and gums. They also do not come with harsh and unwanted side effects that chemical mouthwashes do. They do not cause you to have a dry mouth, a rough mouth, damage the tongue or stain the teeth.

You can buy a range of such natural mouthwashes that are ayurvedic, homeopathic, herbal or plant-based mouthwashes. These mouthwashes also offer protection against gum diseases and tooth decay and can be safely used if you have any gum disease or bleeding gums.

Some of these may a bit expensive, but they are safer than the commercial mouthwashes. And if you are worried about the cost, you can also make your own mouthwash at home at a fraction of the cost, using a few ingredients. You can find some recipes on the internet.

How you use a mouthwash?

Do you know that there is a specific way to use a mouthwash? Most mouthwashes, especially medical grade ones have instructions writing on the bottle.

  • Pour out the correct amount of mouthwash into the cap provided.

  • Dilute with water if instructions call for it.

  • Pour it into your mouth and swirl and rinse for 30-60 seconds vigorously with your mouth closed so that it reaches the entire mouth.

  • Do not rinse with plain water after using the mouthwash.

Do keep in mind that just because you use a mouthwash, you cannot avoid brushing and flossing. Using a mouthwash is only an add-on therapy and should be used with care. At the same time, if you have any kind of gum disease or infection, dental problems, cavities or any other oral problem, do visit your dentist for professional diagnosis and care so that you have healthy teeth.

It is necessary that you brush twice a day and floss at least once a day regularly to take care of your oral hygiene and have fresh breath and prevent tooth decay


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