||A mouthwash is a solution used as an adjunct to regular oral hygiene methods, like brushing and flossing. It helps to prevent plaque formation as well as to treat certain specific conditions like gum infections, bad breath, ulcers, etc.
Mouthwashes may be either medicated or non-medicated:
The Non-medicated variety are those available over-the-counter and can be used regularly in the prevention of dental diseases and the maintenance of oral health. These mouthwashes usually contain essential oils such as Phenol, Thymol, Eugenol, etc. (Listerine)
The Medicated mouthwashes are usually prescribed by the dentist for specific conditions like gum infections, ulcers, or after gum surgery. These may contain Chlorhexidine gluconate having pronounced antiseptic properties. This inhibits the formation of plaque and calculus, thus helping to maintain oral health in those individuals having an excessive tendency to form plaque. These mouthwashes are to be used only for a short time, as prescribed by your dentist, as prolonged use may cause undesireable side effects.
Other mouthwashes available may contain chemicals like Stannous Fluoride, Cetylpyridinium Chloride, Sanguinarine, Sodium Benzoate, etc. These may be classified as either medicated or non-medicated, as their constituents are such that no prescription is required, but their use cannot be decided on by the patient himself.
Many people like to use a mouthwash to control their bad breath. This may be done on a short-term basis, but is unlikely to cure the underlying cause. The only way to rid yourself of bad breath is to get yourself examined to determine the cause and undergo the required specific treatment.
One important variety of mouthwash is the one containing fluoride. This kind can be used by individuals having an excessive tendency to tooth decay, or those living in areas having inadequate fluoride in their water supply. This method of fluoride enhancement is simple and very effective in preventing tooth decay.
In conclusion, mechanical plaque control (toothbrushing) is necessary and not replaceable by mouthwashes. Physical plaque control remains the most important goal in the prevention of dental diseases and maintenance of oral health.