People use mouthwashes for a variety of reasons. They are used to make the breath fresher, to avoid tooth decay, to reduce plaque, to reduce or prevent gingivitis (early stage of gum disease), to prevent tartar formation or for a combination of these factors. Note that you don’t need a prescription to buy a mouthwash.
Therapeutic mouthwashes contain four main active ingredients. These are:
- Antimicrobial agents (these kill the bacteria in the mouth and in the process, reduce plaque formation, decrease gingivitis and control bad breath.)
- Fluoride (the fluoride in some mouthwashes reduces tooth decay by reinforcing the enamel on the tooth.)
- Odor neutralizers (chemically inactivates odor causing substances.)
- Astringent salts (temporarily masks bad odors from the mouth.)
A mouthwash should be used either before or after you brush your teeth but it cannot substitute brushing. Many people who have difficulty brushing are also advised to use a mouthwash because it can provide some protection against periodontal disease and cavities. Durham Dental establishments advice that you should not give fluoridated mouthwashes to children below the age of six years because they may swallow the solution. To learn which mouthwash is best suited for you, please contact your Durham or Chapel Hill dentist.