Learn All About Dental Rinses & Mouthwashes
In the hustle and bustle that is synonymous with our daily lives these days, we are all pleasantly stressed, with many extras added onto our expanded to-do lists, where everyday chores – like looking after your teeth and gums in your dental hygiene routine – may take a back seat. Holiday parties have enticed with sugar-laced desserts, cocktails tantalized fused with alcohols, and for smokers, cigarettes continue to tempt with extra puffs, all impacting your oral health.
With all of these ongoing temptations, how will you manage this vital gateway to your overall health?
Mouthwashes to the Rescue!
Your general health all starts with good oral health… and selecting your Pucker-Perfect Mouthwash, to treat bad breath, plaque, cavities, Gingivitis and tooth stains. Benjamin Franklin’s world-renowned quote “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” perfectly describes the important role of mouthwashes in proactive dental care. When added to your daily brushing and flossing routine, mouthwashes can maintain and improve your overall dental health.
However, your mouth is not only the buccal cavity that houses your teeth, tongue and your taste-buds, it is also the vital portal, the ultimate gateway to your entire systemic health: and a healthy mouth is absolutely critical to a healthy body! If left unchecked, the bacteria in your mouth could ultimately segue into your blood stream and result in inflammatory issues throughout your entire body.
The Hard Facts: “Tooth Decay is the #1 Chronic Disease in America” and Canada Follows Suit
Canadian statistics closely mirror that of the US, since 39% of Canadians have lost time from normal activities, tending to their oral care needs. Furthermore, an estimated 2.26 million school-days are lost for children and 4.15 million working-days are lost for adults annually, due to dental sick-days! With a few ounces of ongoing prevention from mouthwashes as part of a daily oral care program, these numbers would certainly be in decline!
Do You Actually Need a Mouthwash?
YES! If you want to be totally pro-active or explore options for restorative dental care, you do need one.
Typically, mouthwashes have been known primarily for getting rid of unpleasant mouth odours but how do you know if you have bad breath? According to Dr. Harold Katz – aka the “Bad Breath Guru” – most of us cannot smell our own breath since we are acclimated to it. We get used to our own scents, and the only way the we may know is through others’ unpleasant reactions… to our equally unpleasant breaths. Dr. Katz is not only an internationally renowned Dentist, Bacteriologist and Halitosis Expert, but he is also the founder of The California Breath Clinics as well as the creator of the TheraBreath™ line of premium oral care products, which may be options for your own fortified oral care routine.
Bad breath – Halitosis – occurs when there is buildup of excess sulphur producing bacteria, which typically forms at the back of the tongue, the throat and the tonsils, creating what Dr. Katz refers to as “volatile sulphur compounds”.
In addition to bad breath, mouthwashes can also successfully treat the more visible and detectable signs of diminished oral health, in the form of bleeding gums, and sore teeth.
Just Say Aaahhh & Do Your Own Breath Test!
Simply open your mouth in front of a well-lit mirror, say Aaahhh and take a look at your tongue. A deep pinkish tone indicates good oxygen levels – and oxygen being the enemy to bacteria-causing bad breath – you are (most likely) in the clear. However, if your tongue looks more ‘whitish’ in tone, this indicates an over-production of the nasty sulphur compounds and your mouth needs some TLC, starting with a good tongue-scraper.
If you are between checkups or are unable to visit us and don’t want to rely on your friends to tell you the bad news, you can easily test your own breath:
Option 1. Wash your hand and then simply lick the backside. Wait until it dries, and then sniff it. YES! It is as simple as that.
Option 2. Take a tongue-depressor or a Popsicle stick and scrape the back of your tongue. Allow to dry and then sniff it. If it doesn’t smell like a bouquet of roses, call us for an appointment but in the meantime, head to the oral care aisle to select the mouthwash that is right for you, based on the descriptions that follow.
But first, let’s identify the potential causes and understand what’s happening at the bacterial level in your mouth.
Causes of Sulphur-infused Bad Breath, aka Halitosis
In addition to the obvious culprits like cavities, there could be many causes for Halitosis:
- For adolescents, there are health risks associated with smoking or chewing tobacco, substance abuse and oral piercings.
- For adults, seniors and diabetics who are on multi-prescription regimes, there are over 500 medications with numerous side-effects that include dry-mouth, known in medical terms as Xerostomia. Be alert for the onset of dry-mouth when using antidepressants, cardiovascular drugs, sedatives, decongestants, high blood pressure medications, antihistamines etc., all of which can also lead to an excess buildup of bacteria.
- For more than one third of cancer patients, radiation therapy often results in dry-mouth and other oral complications, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
- Even for relatively healthy individuals on high-protein diets – like the extremely popular KETO Diets or for those practicing intermittent fasting routines – bad breath is often an unwelcome side-effect.
If you have any of these medical conditions, our team of oral-care experts are standing by to assist you.
Women Experience a Higher Incidence of Complications Resulting from Gum Disease!
According to studies conducted by the dental experts at Colgate, oral care is especially critical for women as they have special requirements during the unique, ever-changing phases of their lives.
A bacterial infection, Gingivitis can actually enter the bloodstream if left untreated! Colgate’s research has linked gum disease to the onset of potential major health complications which include the risks of: Heart Disease, Stroke, Diabetes, Respiratory Problems… and even Favourable Pregnancy Outcomes!
With the ongoing changes in women’s hormone levels starting from puberty, their gums react differently from men’s, and they need to be even more conscious of their oral health, during all life phases and stages:
- Menstruation: Gums may swell or bleed, cold sores or canker sores may appear prior to the cycle, but disappear at the onset;
- Oral contraceptives: Usually accompanied by inflamed gums as a side effect;
- Pregnancy: Prenatal care is especially important due to “pregnancy gingivitis” as dental plaque builds up on the teeth and irritates the gums;
- Menopause: Oral symptoms include red or inflamed gums, oral pain, discomfort, burning sensations, altered taste sensations and dry mouth;
- Osteoporosis: Has been linked with bone loss in the jaw, which may lead to the loss of teeth, especially when accompanied by gum disease, which expedites the process;
Therefore women of all ages need to be especially vigilant during their daily oral care routines and include mouthwashes to prevent the onset of gum disease.
Which Mouthwash is Right for You?
Hundreds of mouthwashes are available in local pharmacies – and many have trade-offs since they treat a multitude of symptoms – therefore choosing the right brand and the perfect formula is rather overwhelming.
Brands literally from A to X, are all vying for your attention. These include ACT, Biotin, Colgate, Crest, Listerine, Peridex, Sensodyne, TheraBreath and X-PUR. Newcomer Hello | Goodbye, is a vegan alternative “naturally friendly” flouride-free, SLS- and peroxide-free line, which contains unique organic ingredients, like aloe-vera and coconut oil.
To help you get started in the selection process, look for the primary conditions that you want to resolve, and cross reference it with the features / benefits you need to have fulfilled. To assist you, we have simplified and combined the CREST, COLGATE and LISTERINE families of mouthwashes with a general description of the subcategories of these smile-restoring fluids. Read on to see which category works best for you.
- WHITENING – These typically contains hydrogen peroxide to safely whiten teeth, remove stains caused by darker coloured foods and beverages – berries, tea, coffee, wine – while also strengthening the tooth enamel;
- CLEAN & FRESHEN – The active ingredient is Cytylpyridinium Chloride 0.07% to kill gingivitis-causing germs but also contains alcohol, to invigorate your breath;
- 3D WHITE – These formulas may contain a somewhat higher concentration of peroxide, but all whiten by removing surface stains with a light foaming action, while they also strengthen, refresh and protect from new stains. The triple action formulas of 3D White promise “a whiter smile in 7 days”.
- PRO-HEALTH – This line offers 6 options that kills bad breath bacteria that can cause plaque, gingivitis, freshens breath, strengthens enamel; Some also contain flouride to prevent cavities, for better dental check-ups;
- SCOPE ADVANCED – These formulas have “6-in-1 Multi-Protection” to protect against cavities, prevent tartar build-up, freshen breath, protect against stains, strengthen enamel, and offer the minty kick you expect from Scope.
- ZERO ALCOHOL – Some of the foregoing options contain no alcohol, therefore will not create that strong “burning sensation” that may irritate your gums, and further dry or damage sensitive tissues; The strong taste from the alcohol content could also cause you to spit it out earlier than the recommended time, and decrease the bacteria-killing benefits.
- SENSITIVE TEETH – Look for options that are “SLS-free” (Sodium Lauryl Sulphate, the foaming agent when you brush or swish) which could irritate sensitive gums and teeth. These are also typically alcohol-free, can be used by the whole family, build a long-lasting barrier over time to seal against sensitivity and protect teeth from acid wear.
- DRY MOUTH – these soothe and moisturize a dry mouth, providing relief for 4 hours, they do not burn and do not contain ethanol.
- SORE MOUTH – An alcohol-free temporary “oral wound cleanser” used to promote healing of minor irritations of the mouth and gums, such as oral sores and mouth burns.
- ANTI-CAVITY – These mouthwashes contain flouride which has a greater uptake, to help re-mineralize tooth enamel.
When making your selection, also look for the Canadian Dental Association Seal. The CDA Seal is your validation that the health benefit claims made by the oral care manufacturer have actually been reviewed by an independent company and are actually supported by scientific proof.
How and When to Use Mouthwashes
Now that you have selected the perfect one to meet your needs, it is equally important to know how and when to actually use it, for maximum efficacy.
Although there are specific children’s lines, most mouthwashes typically target adults, with usage recommended for 12 years and up: therefore, it is imperative to keep these out of their reach.
For maximum efficacy, read the manufacturer’s on-pack instructions, which typically consists of:
- Use 30 MINUTES AFTER BRUSHING, allowing the toothpaste ingredients to coat the teeth optimally;
- Rinse and swish vigorously for 30 to 60 seconds, morning and evening, do not swallow but spit it all out;
- Avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes after rinsing, to allow the contact with the mouthwash
- If accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Centre right away.
You Can Even Use Mouthwash to Battle COVID-19!
The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) highly recommends adding mouthwash to your morning oral health routine, to prevent “Mask Mouth” – a new COVID-19 created condition, caused by the buildup of bacteria, resulting from extended wearing of masks.
Simply swish your mouth with an alcohol-free mouthwash once a day before putting your mask on, to keep odour-causing bacteria at bay.
Furthermore, studies conducted at the Rutgers School of Dental Medicine in March 2021, found evidence that two types of mouthwashes disrupted the COVID-19 virus under laboratory conditions, preventing it from replicating in a human cell!
“Published in the Journal Pathogens, the study found that “Listerine and the prescription mouthwash Chlorhexidine disrupted the virus within seconds after being diluted to concentrations that would mimic actual use. Further studies are needed to test real-life efficacy in humans.” *
If further tests are successful, this could possibly open up another massive battlefield on which to fight COVID-19!
In conclusion, we hope that you found these insights beneficial to select the right mouthwash for you and your family and enhance your daily oral-care routine.
To share a little factoid: Since 1989, on September 20th the people of China have celebrated ‘Love Your Teeth Day’ (LTD), which has had an astounding effect of improving the dental health of the country, over the past three decades. With your participation, perhaps we should start our own ‘Love Your Teeth Day’’… in Canada?
Smiling builds self-confidence and improves your own sense of wellbeing.
A Healthy Mouth = A Healthy Body = A Healthy YOU!
Give yourself and your family more reasons to smile, throughout the years to come.
Dr. Tan, Dr. McInerney and Dr. Tehrani, and our team of oral care experts at Georgian Dental are standing by, ready to preserve miles of healthy smiles!