The common mistake to avoid when using mouthwash – expert

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Alcohol-containing mouthwash contains a host of ingredients that effectively target bad bacteria in the oral cavity. Many opt for the alcohol-free alternative, however, for fear of weakening the enamel on their teeth. Another risk associated with improper mouthwash use is the dysfunction of the salivary glands, which could hinder oral hygiene attempts.

Dentist James E Galati, vice president of the New York State Dental Association, explains that over-rinsing could suppress saliva production.

As the mucous shield becomes stripped, the mouth’s ability to fight off harmful agents becomes compromised.

Chronic dry mouth causes food and bacteria in the mouth to harden and turn into plaque, which eventually leads to tartar.

Dental plaque is the sticky biofilm of debris that collects on the teeth above and below the gum line.

Talking to LiveStrong, Dentist James E Galati explained that overusing the mouth with the product may counteract your oral hygiene efforts.

He said: “Overuse of alcohol-containing mouthwashes may cause the mouth to dry out, causing tissue irritation and promoting plaque build-up.”

Saliva is important as it moves around the mouth and sweeps away small bits of food that feed the bacteria responsible for tooth decay.

This helps neutralise acids in the mouth that break down tooth enamel by washing away acidic residue from eating it.

As a rule of thumb, non-prescription mouthwashes should be used no more than twice per day, along with brushing and flossing, according to Healthline.

However, some people use the product more often in a bid to freshen their breath or clean out their mouths between meals.

Not only does dry mouth lead to plaque build-up, but it also causes bad breath.

Other problems associated with dry mouth are the increased risk of dental staining and discolouration as a result of enamel erosion.

Some signs that mouthwash is being overused include:

  • Persistent or inflamed canker sores
  • Bleeding gums when you use your mouthwash
  • Symptoms of dry mouth
  • Pain or sensitivity when you brush your teeth after using mouthwash
  • Teeth staining.

Another common mistake that may hinder oral health habits is using mouthwash seconds after brushing your teeth, according to Dr Galati.

The expert explained this may flush away the fluoride from your toothpaste which is fundamental for strengthening the bone.

Instead, the expert suggests it may be more beneficial to use an antiseptic mouthwash after meals and before brushing.

Other causes of dry mouth:

Common causes of xerostomia include dehydration, which hinders the production of saliva.

“Dry mouth is often due to the side effect of certain medications or ageing issues or as a result of radiation therapy for cancer,” explains the Mayo Clinic.

“Less often, dry mouth may be caused by a condition that directly affects the salivary glands.”

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