What you should know about mouthwash

Dr. Amy Martin, a dental specialist at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago, explains that all depends on what type of mouthwash is being used and what it is being used for.

Mouthwash can have your mouth feeling fresh in an instant, but is it necessary to oral hygiene?

The two types of over-the-counter mouthwashes are therapeutic and cosmetic. While the cosmetic type may temporarily mask bad breath, the therapeutic type can help provide a more long-term solution by attacking bacteria and plaque or using fluoride to strengthen teeth. The type you use should be discussed with your primary dentist. Even more importantly, an ADA seal should be on the product you choose.

Dr. Martin says, “It is generally recommended that you choose products bearing the ADA Seal of Acceptance, which means their safety has been verified by the ADA.”

Once you have a beneficial mouthwash that works for your needs, the next step is using it correctly. This is specific to the type you are using, so make sure to discuss with your dentist, as well.

“Some of the ‘risks’ to mouthwashes revolve around misuse. Many mouthwashes contain high levels of alcohol or fluoride (or both), which can be dangerous if swallowed in large quantities. Always keep out of reach of children and use as directed,” says Dr. Martin, “In general, follow the dosing guidelines that come on each product. For example, a fluoride mouthwash generally should be used only once daily. Check product labels for usage guidelines.”

It is also important to note that using mouthwash should not replace daily brushing and flossing.

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