Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, and mouthwash have long been used by people worldwide in keeping utmost oral health. Brushing after every meal and flossing regularly takes away food that got stuck on gums, surfaces of teeth, and in between teeth, essentially preventing plaque from combining with starch and sugar to produce acid that attach tooth enamel. In other words, they help prevent tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath, and tooth stains. In toothpastes, the active ingredient fluoride prevents tooth decay. Proper brushing is more responsible in taking away unwanted substances from teeth and mouth, though.
What about mouthwash? How does it help with oral health? Well, it has sodium fluoride that basically keeps bacteria-causing cavities at bay. It is believed to strengthen teeth, increase teeth’s resistance to dissolving upon contact with acids, and slow down the growth of mouth bacteria. Perhaps, your trusted dental expert in those dental scrubs and lab coats told you about this many times already. That is about to change, though.
Just recently, the FDA sent three different manufacturers of mouthwashes warning to stop unsupported claims about their products effectively preventing gum disease and removing plaque. FDA or Food and Drug Administration said these benefits are not proven. Claims of health benefits on labels and in advertisements are unsubstantiated.
How then does your mouthwash improve oral hygiene? According to Jonathan Shenkin, pediatric dentist and assistant professor of health policy at Boston University’s School of Dental Medicine, the ingredient sodium fluoride does not remove plaque, and that the act of rinsing disrupts plaque with effect similar to that with plain water. It goes to tell that without proper brushing of teeth, rinsing your mouth with Listerine Total Care Anticavity Mouthwash, CVS Complete Care Anticavity Mouthwash, and Walgreen Mouth Rinse Full Action is simply like rinsing with water. Meanwhile, FDA awaits response from Johnson & Johnson, CVA Corp., and Walgreen Co.
This article does not suggest anyone to stop use of mouthwash. For economic and dental benefits, carefully weigh advantages of using mouthwash and not using it at all. And as for optimal oral care, always consult the nearest dentist in lab coats and scrub pants.