An oral hygiene routine consists of brushing your teeth at least twice daily, flossing your teeth and guns at least once a day and scraping your tongue whenever you brush your teeth. A good oral hygiene routine will have your teeth pearly white, your gums pink, your breath fresh and your entire mouth healthy.

But what about mouthwash? Before that question is answered, let’s learn a little more about it. Bottled Portuguese urine was used to purge bacteria from the mouth. It was believed the presence of ammonia in urine aided in disinfection and could whiten teeth and remained one of the most effective ingredients in mouthwashes until the 18th century. Tortoise blood was used as a mouthwash, 3 times a year to prevent toothaches. Drinking goat’s milk to maintain good breath or rinsing your mouth out with white wine. Mixture of olive juice and leaves with milk, gum myrrh, pomegranate, vinegar and wine could help fight bad breath. Some oral hygiene practices involved a mint and vinegar rinsing solution, believed to rid the mouth of bad breath and germs.

Today, there are 2 types of mouthwash — cosmetic and therapeutic. Cosmetic mouthwashes are the ones you and me use every day and buy from the grocery store and drugstore. It can give you fresh breath for up to 3 hours but cosmetic mouthwash does not always affect the bacterial agent causing the bad breath. Some cosmetic mouthwashes contain fluoride to fight cavities and other ingredients that help fight gingivitis, decrease plaque build-up and whiten teeth. Therapeutic mouthwashes, prescribed by your dentist, contain active ingredients that specifically target decay-causing agents, aid in reducing plaque build-up and help reduce gingivitis in a more controlled and direct way than cosmetic mouthwashes. The concentrations of ingredients in therapeutic mouthwashes are usually higher and therefore require professional advice before use.

It’s important remember that any kind of mouthwash is only helpful when used in conjunction with brushing twice daily and flossing once daily and is not a substitute for these essential parts of your daily oral hygiene routine. It’s also recommended to get alcohol-free mouthwashes as recent research has shown a link between alcohol-containing mouthwashes and the development of oral cancers.

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