Regardless of how well you brush your teeth and gumline, pathogenic oral bacteria – the type that cause tooth decay, cavities and gum disease – just keep coming back day after day. That’s because, no matter how good your toothbrush or brushing technique is, you’ll only ever clean your tooth surfaces.
Even if you factor in interdental (flossing) and tongue cleaning, approximately 67% of the intraoral surfaces in your oral cavity are never cleaned. This allows pathogenic bacteria to colonise and accumulate in these areas. These hidden areas include the hard/soft palates, inner cheeks, under the tongue and the throat.
However, there is one complimentary oral habit that can take up the slack – mouthwash.
The importance of mouthwash to control plaque biofilms
Most people do not practice adequate daily oral hygiene for a number of reasons. If you are time poor or have dexterity issues, you may not floss or even clean hard-to-reach tooth surfaces sufficiently. So it’s no wonder that pathogenic bacteria in hidden areas of your oral cavity can recolonise freshly cleaned teeth within hours – and the never-ending cycle continues.
Using mouthwashes with chemotherapeutic control is the ideal way to supplement your brushing and interdental cleaning – and to reduce your oral cavity’s bacterial plaque load. However, while mouthwashes are invaluable to your oral care and hygiene routine, not all of them are effective at targeting bacteria within the biofilm.
A good mouthwash penetrates plaque biofilm
For a mouthwash to be truly effective at targeting bacteria within the biofilm, it should be able to penetrate it. Otherwise, the mouthwash will only be useful against suspended or free-floating oral bacteria.
Four scientifically-approved active mouthwash ingredients that penetrate plaque biofilms and have the best long-term efficacy & safety include:
- chlorhexidine digluconate (for short term treatment)
- triclosan (also present in toothpaste)
- EOs or essential oils including mentol, eucalyptol, methl salicylate & thymol (for long term daily use)
- cetylpyridinium chloride (therapeutic benefits)
Choosing the right active ingredients in your mouthwash
To determine what your specific needs are with regard to mouthwash, it is useful to consult with your dentist. They can assess your gingival health and weigh in risk factors (incl. sugary diet, misaligned teeth, disability &/or orthodontics) to work out the most effective active ingredients and mouthwash for your oral health needs.
As far as integrating mouthwash rinsing into your daily oral health, make it part of a three step oral hygiene procedure as follows:
- Brush your teeth
- Floss or clean interdentally
- Rinse with mouthwash
Perform this oral hygiene procedure after each meal or twice daily to maintain long term oral hygiene and health.