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Can Mouthwash Help Prevent Gum Disease?

Gum disease is one of the biggest concerns among our patients these days, and with good reason. Gum disease is not only painful and unsightly, it has a drastic effect on your health and can even lead to tooth loss.

At New Albany Implants, we know that the best way to treat gum disease is prevent it, and nothing will help you prevent gum disease more than a healthy home dental care routine.

Regular brushing and flossing will keep your teeth and gums clear of the plaque and bacteria that causes gum disease. Adding mouthwash to this routine can be beneficial as long as you choose the right kind of mouthwash. Not all mouthwashes have the active ingredients necessary to combat gum the causes of gum disease or to treat the irritation and bleeding that often comes with it. Despite whatever claims they might make, some mouthwashes are only concerned with freshening your breath, while other contain ingredients that will actually kill germs and help protect your oral health.

Active Ingredients In Mouthwash

Since what is in mouthwash can vary from brand to brand, make sure to read the label to find out what the active ingredients are.

Chlorhexidine – This chemical is the most effective at fighting plaque and killing bacteria. The antibacterial properties of chlorhexidine has been shown to have an immediate effect on the bacteria that cause tooth decay, killing it instantly. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that treat the red, swollen gums that accompany gum disease.

One downside to using a mouthwash containing chlorhexidine is that prolonged and repeated use has been shown to leave brown stains on your teeth. However, some newer mouthwash mixtures have been designed to combat this effect.

Cetylpyridinium – This is the active ingredient in Scope, and it has some antibacterial fight capabilities, but not nearly as much as chlorhexidine. Cetylpyridinium is more effective at fight halitosis, or bad breath, than it is a fighting gum disease, which is great if that is your concern, but if the main reason you are using mouthwash is to fight gum disease, then this is not the best choice.

Hydrogen peroxide – The foaming action of hydrogen peroxide is very effective at physically removing debris from your teeth. It also fights bacteria, but hydrogen peroxide is usually only used as a short term treatment to oral health problems, since prolonged use can have a variety of negative side effects.

Alcohol – Though usually not used as an active ingredient, many mouthwashes use alcohol as a carrier for flavoring, or to give their mouthwash a little extra kick so you can feel it working. The problem is alcohol does little to nothing to prevent you from developing gum disease, and what’s worse, alcohol will actually exacerbate the symptoms of even a mild instanceof gum disease. So if fighting gum disease is your primary concern, then you should avoid any mouthwash containing alcohol.

Mouthwash Is Not a Substitute for Brushing and Flossing

Mouthwash is only truly effective if it is used as a part of a healthy oral home care routine. Brushing and flossing physically loosens and removes the food particles that feed bacteria, as well as the bacteria itself, it will also get rid of the dental plaque that is a key contributor to the ravages of gum disease. Rinsing with water and mouthwash, will flush all the loose debris and plaque out of your mouth, help guard against tooth decay and gum disease.

One thing to be aware of, though, is that the ingredients of many popular toothpastes have a neutralizing effect on chlorhexidine, so if you are using this kind of mouthwash, rinse with water after brushing and flossing, and then follow up with mouthwash 30 minutes later.

We Can Help

Healthy gums are important for your oral health, and gum disease could be an obstacle for getting dental implants. So if you are concerned about the health of your gums, come see us in our Southern Indiana office.

Here at New Albany Implants, we will examine your gums and help you decide what treatment is best, if any, to make sure your are healthy enough for implants.

Contact us today to schedule an appointment.