Mouthwash can be immeasurably helpful in keeping your teeth and gums clean and healthy. Not only can mouthwash kill bacteria, it can also break up plaque and stains, making them easier to remove. However, it's important you choose the mouthwash you use with care because the wrong one can actually damage your teeth. Here's the lowdown on this issue.
Some Mouthwashes are Highly Acidic
The problem with some mouthwashes is that they are highly acidic. Acid, such as that found in lemons and tomatoes, soften tooth enamel and makes it more vulnerable to being brushed away. This is why many dentists recommend waiting at least 30 minutes after eating acidic foods before brushing your teeth. It gives the enamel in your teeth time to reharden, so it isn't eroded away when you clean your mouth.
It's the same with mouthwash. If you use it first and then brush your teeth, you could be inadvertently damaging them, even though your goal is to improve your oral health. Additionally, the acid may also cause the teeth to become demineralized—another form of tooth erosion—which can lead to cavities and eventually tooth loss if the issue isn't addressed.
Protecting Your Teeth
There are a couple of simple things you can do to protect your teeth when using mouthwash. The easiest is to use the wash at the end of your oral care routine. After flossing and brushing, follow up with a swish of mouthwash to remove any debris you missed, kill any leftover germs, and make your mouth minty fresh.
If you prefer to use the mouthwash first to help break up plaque or for other oral health reasons then use a non-acidic product. You can find the acidity level of pretty much any mouthwash by doing a search online, which is generally represented as the pH level.
You want to stay away from products with low pH levels because these have the highest amount of acidity. Instead, look for mouthwashes with high pH levels as these are more alkaline. For instance, Listerine Total Care Anticavity Mouthwash has a pH level of 3.5 which is about the same as a can of diet soda. On the other hand, ACT Restoring Mouthwash has a pH of 6.6 which is close to the pH level of water.
You can also discuss the issue with your dentist who can make helpful recommendations.
For more information about this or other oral care issues, contact a local dental clinic like Dental Design SD.