Most of the patients at Dr. Pat Crawford’s dental practice in Kenosha, Wisconsin, use some sort of mouthwash. Just as we learn from the time we are small that we should brush our teeth in the mornings, we are taught that fresh breath comes more easily if we rinse those same teeth with a brightly colored, minty liquid. However, not all mouthwashes are created equal and, furthermore, some of them can do more harm than good to your teeth and oral health. We have even had patients whose use of certain products may well have contributed to other dental problems!
Before you gargle this morning, take a look at these three important things your mouth wishes you knew:
1-They mask bad odors.
“Wait a second, Dr. Crawford! That is the entire reason I use mouthwash! I don’t want bad breath!” That is probably your instinctive response, but there are some instances in which bad breath actually is a good thing. Nope, you didn’t read that wrong. Chronic bad breath is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. If you find yourself rinsing your mouth multiple times a day in order to mask your bad breath then you could be covering up a much bigger problem like a tonsil infection, diabetes, or even liver or kidney issues.
If you are using mouthwash mainly to cover up your bad breath, tell your dentist. They can help you rule out underlying health concerns.
2-Some brands have a high alcohol content.
Even though you are not swallowing your mouthwash, the alcohol content in it can still be harmful. In fact, according to a 2012 risk analysis of 30 mouthwash samples, the ingredients in some can be toxic even if you do not swallow, because they contribute to metabolic acidosis, which occurs when too much acid accumulates in the body and affects kidney function.
Even if you don’t swallow your mouthwash (and you shouldn’t!) talk to your dentist about the alcohol content of your preferred product to ascertain the risks associated with using it.
3-Mouthwash may exacerbate other oral health conditions.
Due to the high alcohol content in many brands (even the popular ones), these rinses can irritate your gums if you have canker sores, cavities, or gingivitis. This is particularly troubling since many patients start using mouthwash to attempt to deal with gum disease on their own. The wrong mouthwash can decrease the amount of saliva in your mouth and leave teeth and gums vulnerable to irritation, decay, infection, and disease.
Don’t try to take on gum disease alone! Talk to your dental health professional about your mouthwash and why you are using it. They will be able to give you some tips about the best product for your oral health goals.
Mouthwash Can Make or Break Oral Health
You might be thinking that you are done with mouthwash forever, but the right product can work wonders for your oral health. You just need to check with your dentist to make sure you are using the right product instead of something that is not having any effect or, even worse, having a negative one. Dr. Pat Crawford can not only recommend a good product for your specific health needs, his practice actually carries a variety of dental health products and he may be able to help you obtain specialized products as well.