Concerned about their dental hygiene, many people use mouthwashes in addition to brushing their teeth regularly. It is however advised to use them only when necessary.
Indeed, the prolonged use of mouthwashes has side effects, both on dental health and general health. Therefore, always read the labels on your bottles carefully to learn more about the product and its dosage. Depending on the case, you may opt for protective, antiseptic, purifying or ulcer-resistant formulas. You should also know that natural, homemade solutions are as effective as the mouthwashes sold in pharmacies or supermarkets.
Usefulness of mouthwashes
Depending on the formulas, mouthwashes are specially made to treat a particular case. You thus have products which relieve the small boo-boos: irritations, mouth ulcers, bad breath? They contain active ingredients that are not present in toothpastes. What makes these mouthwashes complementary to tooth brushing, provided that you suffer from a problem with your teeth or gums.
Antiseptic formulas are composed of active ingredients that fight germs such as hexetidine and chlorhexidine. This type of mouthwash is often used for inflammations and infections of the oral mucosa. Dentists also recommend its use after surgery to prevent the development of “bad germs”. If you have an abscess, you will quickly notice a relief of pain. Note that mouthwash alone cannot completely cure an infection.
Cavities are one of the main causes of tooth decay. They are caused by microbes and bacteria that dig into the enamel. It is therefore advisable to use protective mouthwashes from time to time. These contain active ingredients that make the enamel more resistant to acid attacks. They are especially suitable for people wearing rings, because brushing is not often effective in these cases.
Disadvantages of mouthwashes
Although mouthwashes are intended to reinforce dental hygiene, there is no question of abusing them. Already, it is necessary to know that these products are not adapted to children under 6 years old, because their teeth are still too fragile. In most cases, mouthwashes should not be used for more than two weeks without medical advice. This can disturb the balance of the oral flora and lead to fungal infections in the long term.
In addition, product residues remain in the mouth even after you have rinsed your mouth. These residues arrive in your intestines when you swallow your meals or saliva. This can lead to a disturbance of the intestinal flora.
Other consequences result from prolonged use of mouthwashes because of the high chlorhexidine content. Over time, this active ingredient causes discoloration of the mucous membranes and teeth. It is also responsible for changes in taste and desquamation of the mucous membranes. In addition, mouthwashes should be used in moderation because they can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke by killing the good bacteria that protect our blood pressure.
In a study of consumers using chlorhexidine mouthwashes, Professor Amrita Ahluwalia of London’s Univesity Queen Mary found that volunteers had rising blood pressure. She recommends that regular users of mouthwashes should choose products WITHOUT chlorhexidine. “This antiseptic should only be used on a one-off basis, for example during caries treatment and under the supervision of a dental surgeon.
As a reminder, the goal is not to eliminate all bacteria in the mouth, because some of them are indispensable when chewing.
Alternatives to mouthwashes
Grandmother’s remedies are an inexhaustible source of tricks to make your life easier. You’re sure to find formulas to make your own mouthwash, with more natural ingredients.
A mouthwash based on baking soda is useful for fresh breath, to relieve mouth ulcers and to prevent tartar. Dilute a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of water and use it after brushing your teeth. Let it work for 3 minutes before rinsing your mouth with cold water. This homemade recipe is even more effective if you add a pinch or two of salt. And to make it more pleasant, do not hesitate to put a few drops of essential oil to perfume it.
To fight against bad breath, you can also mix 2 drops of peppermint essential oil and 2 drops of clove essential oil in a glass of water. After brushing your teeth, you rinse your mouth for about 20 seconds with this mixture and your breath will be pleasant. Attention, this remedy is only suitable for adults, essential oils being harmful to children.
You will find many mouthwashes in pharmacies and supermarkets, which can make the choice difficult. Each formula addresses a particular problem and in case of doubt, it is always better to ask your dentist or at least the pharmacist. However, these are useful if you really have a dental problem and only for 1 to 2 weeks. If possible, prefer baking soda-based mouthwashes, which are also a natural alternative, in addition to being economical.