There are several reasons to make mouthwash part of your oral hygiene routine.
Mouthwash can help get your teeth cleaner and whiter. Using a mouthwash or rinse can help prevent or reduce tartar, plaque, and gingivitis (early-stage gum disease). Some mouth rinses also contain ingredients to help whiten teeth.
Mouthwash complements brushing and flossing. Mouthwashes and rinses can help remove any plaque that may still be left after brushing and flossing. They can also help rinse food particles out of the mouth.
Mouthwash can help tame bad breath, which can have many different causes.
Improper oral hygiene: Proper tooth and tongue brushing and flossing can make all the difference if you suffer from bad breath. Without proper oral hygiene, food particles and bacteria left in the mouth after eating can cause bad breath. It is important to learn the proper way to brush and floss. Along with brushing and flossing, you can use mouthwashes and rinses to kill the bacteria that can cause bad breath. This helps leave your mouth with a fresher smell.
Food: Foods such as garlic and onions are especially known to contribute to bad breath. When we eat, the food particles are absorbed into the bloodstream and transferred to our lungs. As we breathe the odour is expelled, causing bad breath. This lasts until our body has eliminated the food. If you cannot properly brush or floss your teeth immediately after eating, try to rinse your mouth with water – this will help to dislodge food particles and moisten your mouth. If your meal comes with raw parsley as a garnish, chew on it – it’s a natural breath freshener!
Smoking: Along with the damage that smoking does to our overall health, teeth, and gums, it is also a cause of bad breath.
Medications: Some drugs, such as antihistamines and decongestants, cause bad breath by making your mouth dry. Dry mouth, which is explained next, is a contributor to bad breath.
Dry mouth (xerostomia): Dry mouth occurs when the flow of saliva decreases. As previously mentioned, it can be a side effect of certain medications. Dry mouth can also be caused by salivary gland problems, excessive talking, exercising, dieting, smoking, continuous breathing through the mouth or drinking alcohol. To prevent and treat dry mouth it is helpful to drink lots of water or to use sugarless candy or gum. This will stimulate saliva flow that will then cleanse the mouth and remove particles and bacteria that cause odour.
Gum disease (periodontal disease): Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gums that support the teeth. Individuals who suffer from gum disease are more prone to bad breath as it creates the perfect breeding ground for odour-causing bacteria to flourish. Normally the tiny space in between your gums and teeth is 1 mm to 3 mm deep. When you have periodontal disease the space (periodontal pockets) can grow to 5 mm or more. This allows bacteria to hide in deeper and more secluded areas.
Other medical disorders: Medical disorders that can cause bad breath include respiratory infections, chronic sinusitis, chronic bronchitis, postnasal drip, diabetes, and gastrointestinal, liver, or kidney problems.
If you have persistent bad breath that has not been treatable by proper oral hygiene techniques, you should consult with your dentist. Bad breath can often be a warning sign of periodontal disease or respiratory infection.