Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mouthwash -To use or not?

By Aishwarya Jayadeep

Whenever I take my daughter to the dentist, they suggest that she use anti-cavity mouth wash. Though we have bought it, none of us are really regular about using it. We typically use it only when we eat something with a strong odour - like garlic. or onion. But in spite of this, I am proud to say that after my little one has got her permanent set of teeth, she doesn't have a single cavity or plaque on her teeth. This I attribute to the habit of brushing and flossing regularly with a fluoride toothpaste. So from my personal experience what I realized is that if you are brushing regularly with a fluoride toothpaste, you may not need to use the mouthwash at all; but if your brushing habits are a little slack, this may help you a bit.
The most often asked question about mouth wash is whether it is as effective as advertised. The simple answer is that it depends upon your need. Studies have shown that most over-the-counter antiplaque rinses and antiseptics aren't much more effective against plaque and periodontal disease than rinsing with plain water. Most dentists are skeptical about the value of these anti plaque products, and studies point to only a 20 to 25 percent effectiveness, at best, in reducing the plaque that causes gingivitis. However anti-cavity rinses with fluoride,  have been clinically proven to fight up to 50 percent more of the bacteria that cause cavities. Nevertheless, many dentists consider the use of fluoride toothpaste alone to be adequate.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has divided the entire range of mouthwashes in three broad categories:
-A combination of the two
Cosmetic rinses are commercial over-the-counter (OTC) products. They are typically used after brushing to help remove oral debris. They provide a temporary solution that lasts from at least 10 minutes to maximum three hours. However, by reducing bacteria from the mouth, they suppress bad breath and leave your mouth with a pleasant taste after eating. These are mostly fluoride based mouthwashes.
The therapeutic grade mouthwashes are stronger in their action; in addition to serve all the purposes of OTC mouthwashes, they are empowered with other active ingredients that fight against some oral diseases. In order to obtain the therapeutic grade, the product must obtain the FDA approval. These mouthwashes such as Peridex or PerioGard are prescribed by dental professionals to treat oral diseases causing inflammation, swelling, and bleeding of the gums.
The therapeutic mouthwashes are again divided into two types depending on their uses:
-Antiplaque/antigingivitis rinses
-Anticavity fluoride rinses
However, there is another category of mouthwash and that incorporate the features of both the cosmetic and therapeutic products. These multi-action mouthwashes came to be known as total care or combination mouthwash. These products contain a variety of anti-bacterial ingredients that work against oral bacteria responsible for producing unpleasant odors and plaque.
Now the question of the hour would be  should I use a rinse?
That depends upon your needs. Most rinses are, at the very least, effective oral antiseptics that freshen the mouth and curb bad breath for up to three hours. Their success in preventing tooth decay, gingivitis (inflammation of the gingival gum tissue) and periodontal disease is limited, however.
Rinses are not considered substitutes for regular dental examinations and proper home care. Dentists stress a regimen of brushing with a fluoride toothpaste followed by flossing, twice a day. If done consistently and properly, the brushing and flossing, along with routine trips to the dentist, should be sufficient in fighting), tooth decay and periodontal disease.

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