This is the second part of a two-part blog series on oral rinses. If you missed the first post, click here to find the answer to the question, “To rinse or not to rinse?”
In the first part of this two-part blog series, we answered a crucial oral and dental health question. One should definitely rinse their mouth after brushing and flossing their teeth… provided they can find the right mouthwash that won’t send them into anaphylactic shock!
If you’re absolutely determined to have a clean mouth and a brilliant smile but you’re concerned about some of the downsides of store-bought mouthwashes, don’t worry. You can still have a smile that smells as fresh as a meadow. For those with severe allergies or an aversion to chemicals that they can’t pronounce, homemade oral rinses can provide a viable alternative to commercial mouthwashes. Let’s find out how they’re made and what’s in them.
Warm Salt Water Mouthwash
Oftentimes, the best solutions are the simplest ones—at least, that’s the case for homemade mouthwash. Warm salt rinses have quite a few benefits but we’ll focus on the ones that brighten your smile.
Kills Bacteria – If you read the first part of this series, then you know that commercial mouthwashes kill all of the bacteria in your mouth—the good and the bad alike. Warm salt water rinses on the other hand tend to leave the helpful bacteria behind. Saltwater has the effect of balancing out your mouth’s pH level, creating an environment that is friendly to good bacteria but inhospitable to bad bacteria.
Protects Teeth – Balancing out your mouth’s level of acidity also helps to prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
Fights Bad Breath – An unscented cupful of warm salt water won’t leave you with minty-fresh breath but it will help protect against bad breath. Most often, bad breath is the result of bad bacteria so salt water’s ability to reduce bad bacteria can give you fresher breath for longer.
Heals Bleeding Gums – Even the mere idea of throwing salt on a bleeding wound is enough to make one cringe with the expectation of pain. Saltwater rinses can, however, have a soothing effect on swollen, inflamed, and bleeding gums.
Warm salt water rinses as an alternative to commercial mouthwashes offer these benefits and more. And they’re very easy to make. Simply dissolve a teaspoon of table salt into a glass of water and rinse away. For extra oral health benefits, add essential oils such as tea tree oil, neem oil, or coconut oil to this homemade mouthwash recipe. And if you’re after a brighter smile, you can throw in a teaspoon of baking soda—it’s clinically proven to whiten teeth!
Apple Cider Vinegar Mouthwash
It’s great for making salad dressings, it’s great for pickling vegetables… is it great for cleaning mouths? Believe it or not, if used correctly and sparingly, apple cider vinegar (ACV) can be an effective mouthwash.
Kills Bacteria – You’ve probably noticed a running theme in effective mouthwashes: they all kill bad bacteria! And now you can add apple cider vinegar to the list of bad-bacteria-killers. A 2019 study found that ACV had strong antibacterial properties at concentrations as low as 25%. However, the study stopped short of calling this improvised mouthwash a miracle cure.
Can Treat Oral Thrush & Gum Disease – At sufficiently high concentrations, ACV can be an effective home remedy for oral thrush as it contains enzymes that combat candida and excess yeast. Adding apple cider vinegar to your diet through salad dressings or oral supplements can even address underlying health conditions that contribute to periodontal disease.
Can Damage Enamel – Part of what makes ACV such an effective antiseptic is its high level of acidity. Unfortunately, that also makes it an effective enamel killer. ACV has a pH level of anywhere between 2-3—that’s comparable to undiluted lemon juice. If you’re going to use apple cider vinegar as a mouthwash, it’s important to do so sparingly.
Making ACV mouthwash isn’t quite as simple as a warm salt water rinse with added baking soda and essential oils. In order to protect your enamel from acidity, you’ll want to dilute one teaspoon of ACV into an 8-ounce glass of water. At that low level of concentration, it isn’t clear that apple cider vinegar provides much if any antiseptic benefits. Nevertheless, diluted ACV can be an all-natural mouthwash alternative to the store-bought options if used properly.
Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash
You’re probably more familiar with hydrogen peroxide as a teeth-whitening agent that your dentist uses. However, hydrogen peroxide can also be an effective mouthwash.
Hydrogen peroxide has antiviral, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties that can give you a cleaner mouth and a brighter smile. Furthermore, hydrogen peroxide can clean your gums and, if prescribed by your dentist, can even help treat gingivitis.
Much like apple cider vinegar, however, hydrogen peroxide can damage your teeth’s enamel. Even the relatively low concentration options sold in pharmacies—3% and 6%—are potent enough to damage your enamel if not administered with the supervision or instruction of a dentist.
If you want to use hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash, you’ll want to dilute it with water in a one-to-two ratio (i.e., one part hydrogen peroxide and two parts water). Swish your homemade mouthwash around your mouth as you normally would for not more than 30 seconds. Click here to learn more about hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes.
Always Talk to Your Dentist
Regardless of whether you opt for a store-bought mouthwash or a homemade concoction of salt water, baking soda, peppermint oil, and aloe vera extract, you’ll want to talk to your dentist. Any changes to your oral and dental care routine can have a huge impact on your oral health.
And remember, no mouthwash—store-bought or homemade—is a replacement for flossing and brushing your teeth twice daily. But it is a great complement to your dental care routine.
To rinse or not to rinse, that is the question. But what is the answer?
In this two-part blog post, we’re going to explore the benefits and drawbacks of commercial mouthwashes and discuss homemade or natural mouthwash alternatives. Let’s answer that age-old question.
The Cons of Conventional Mouthwash
Even though your dentist has likely been recommending that you use mouthwash, that doesn’t mean that mouth rinses don’t have their fair share of drawbacks. In fact, even the most basic forms of dental care have downsides. For example, brushing your teeth too frequently or with too much force will erode your gums. With that understanding in my mind, let’s take a look at some of the cons of commercial mouthwashes.
Mouthwash Kills Bacteria – We know what you’re thinking: isn’t it good that mouthwash kills bacteria? In short, the answer is yes. However, conventional mouthwash kills all bacteria in your mouth—the bad and the good alike. A 2019 study on the impacts of the oral microbiome on the risk of infection—i.e., periodontal disease—found that some bacteria actually reduced patients’ chances of reinfection. In other words, most store-bought mouthwashes killed the good bacteria in your mouth that helped defend against gum disease.
Mouthwash Dries Out Your Mouth – Many commercial types of mouthwash contain alcohol. While alcohol can be an effective disinfectant—and enjoyable social lubricant—it can also be dehydrating. Particularly when alcohol reacts with some of the compounds in your toothpaste, it can leave you feeling like you’ve rinsed your mouth out with a handful of sand. A dry mouth promotes the growth of bad bacteria which, in turn, can lead to bad breath and gum disease. Additionally, saliva boosts your dental health by remineralizing teeth and balancing your mouth’s pH level. A dry mouth could mean weakened teeth.
Mouthwash Only Covers Up Bad Breath – After using mouthwash, your breath will smell as nice as an alpine forest or a pristine glacier. Unfortunately, it’s just a cover-up. Mouthwash doesn’t actually correct bad breath and oftentimes doesn’t address the underlying cause of bad breath. In fact, because mouthwash that contains alcohol can dry out your mouth, it can actually cause bad breath once all of those mint-scented chemicals wear off.
Mouthwash Contains Harmful Chemicals – Chlorine dioxide, formaldehyde… poloxamer 407. Those are just some of the chemicals that you can find in the average commercial mouthwash. And that’s not even getting into the lengthy list of potentially harmful food colouring agents.
While most mouthwashes don’t contain any of those ingredients in significantly high enough concentrations, frequent or prolonged exposure can be enough to cause side effects. Chlorhexidine gluconate oral rinses, for example, can cause anaphylactic shock in those with strong allergies or contact dermatitis in those with a mild allergy. In other words, know what you’re putting into your body… even if you’re not actually drinking it.
The Pros of Proper Mouthwash
Despite some of the drawbacks discussed above, your dentist has not been lying to you about the benefits of rinsing regularly. In fact, the American Dental Association has bestowed its Seal of Acceptance on mouthwashes that have scientifically demonstrated their safety and efficacy.
Mouthwash Prevents Plaque – One of the drawbacks of mouthwash that we discussed was that it killed bacteria as indiscriminately as an overzealous gardener picking out flowers and weeds alike. But… it does kill bacteria. Plaque forms when the bacteria in your mouth team up together and create microfilm on your teeth and gums. Mouthwash effectively stops that from happening for a time and thusly helps to reduce your chances of developing gum disease.
Mouthwash Is Therapy for Your Gums – Cosmetic mouthwashes provide temporary relief from bad breath. Therapeutic oral rinses, however—even over-the-counter ones—have benefits beyond simply providing you with a minty-fresh smile. Mouthwashes that contain essential oils, fluoride, and peroxide can treat gingivitis, stop bleeding gums and prevent cavities. The right mouthwash can be like a spa day for your teeth and gums. Albeit, a 30-second spa day that ultimately you rinse down the sink.
Mouthwash Removes Food Debris – If you’re taking proper care of your dental and oral hygiene, then you should be able to remove most food particles from your mouth by brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily. However, an added rinse can only help. Whether it’s just warm salt water or a commercial mouthwash, the force and friction created by swishing and gargling remove food debris from your mouth.
Mouthwash Strengthens Teeth – Most over-the-counter mouthwashes contain fluoride. Though that might sound like one of those harmful chemicals we discussed earlier, fluoride is one of the good guys when it comes to dental hygiene. Fluoride strengthens teeth, reduces sensitivity, and improves oral health. Dental authorities such as the ADA have recognized the benefits of fluoride for decades.
Mouthwash is Dentist-Recommended
There should be no lengthy Shakespearean soliloquy about it. Hopefully, the answer to the age-old question is clear by now… rinse, rinse, rinse! Your dentist recommends it.
In the second part of this post, we’ll explore some alternative mouthwashes including some homemade concoctions that made our dentists cringe. In the meantime, check out the Dawson Dental blog for more great information and tips.
This is part two of a blog series. Click here to read the first entry.
The team here at Dawson Dental believes that an essential part of any effective dental care routine is education, education, education! The more you know, the brighter—and wiser—your smile.
That’s why we’ve been compiling this glossary of dental terms. In the first entry of our dental dictionary, we discussed alveolar bones, edentulism, bicuspids and a whole host of other common dental terms so that you can ward off periodontal disease with wisdom… teeth. This time around, we’ll take a look at terms such as deciduous teeth, apexification, curettage and xerostomia so that you can stay cavity free.
Abutment: In dentistry, the term “abutment” can have a few different meanings depending on the specific scenario. An abutment crown, for example, refers to an artificial tooth that supports the structural integrity of a larger dental prosthesis. A natural tooth abutment, on the other hand, refers to a natural tooth that supports one end of a dental implant. In any event, know that when you hear the term “abutment” what your dentist is talking about is some way to reinforce your new and improved smile.
Acid Etching: You’ve probably heard that acidic foods such as lemons and limes are bad for your teeth. While that’s definitely true—acidic foods can and do erode your enamel—it’s not always such a bad thing. In fact, dentists and dental surgeons use “acid etching” to prepare teeth for dental bonds.
Apex: The apex of the tooth is the portion of the tooth at the very end of the root. It’s easy to think of the apex as the “south” end of your tooth that lies beneath the gumline. If the apex becomes exposed—usually through trauma or injury—the soft tissue that surrounds it becomes susceptible to infection (acute periradicular apical abscess) that can lead to gum disease. Which is why your dentist may recommend apexification…
Apexification: Apexification is a dental treatment that induces your body to create a calcific barrier to protect an open or otherwise exposed apex. Apexification usually requires several visits to the dentist’s office and treatments with calcium hydroxide but a 2009 study showed the effectiveness of mineral trioxide aggregate (MTA).
Artificial Teeth: Artificial teeth refers to any type of dental replacement for a natural tooth or set of teeth. Artificial teeth come in as many shapes, sizes and materials as the smiles they are designed to fix. Artificial teeth can be fixed in nature—implants, crowns and bridges—or removable such as dentures. Dentists used to craft artificial teeth out of wood but modern dentists use mostly porcelain, acrylic, metal or a combination of thereof.
Calcium Hydroxide: Calcium hydroxide—Ca(OH)2—is a chemical compound that has many clinical, medicinal and even cultural uses. Outside of the dentist’s office where oral care professionals use it for “linings, indirect and direct pulp cupping, root dressing, root canal sealant [and] apical closure”, calcium hydroxide has many more names. Hydrated lime, caustic lime, builders’ lime, slaked lime and pickling lime to name a few.
Curettage: Curettage is the process of scraping off—with a curette—soft tissue or growths inside of bodily cavities. In a dental context, dentists have used curettage on some of the soft tissues in the mouth such as gums to treat infections. As a form of treatment of disease, however, curettage has fallen out of favour with dentists.
Deciduous Teeth: More commonly referred to as primary teeth or baby teeth, deciduous teeth are the first set of teeth to develop in the mouth. The process of tooth eruption usually begins between 5 and 6 months of age and completes between 20 and 30 months of age. Most people will have lost or “exfoliated” their deciduous teeth by the time they are 13 years of age.
Eruption: Tooth eruption refers to the stage of tooth growth and development at which point the tooth emerges from the surface of the gums and becomes visible. Teeth will have been growing beneath the gumline prior to eruption and will continue to grow thereafter until they reach maturity.
Malocclusion: Malocclusion refers to a misalignment of biting and chewing surfaces of the mandible (lower jaw) and maxilla (upper jaw). Generally speaking, there are three (3) different types of malocclusions: Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3. The first two classes of malocclusion refer to varying degrees of severity of overbite while Class 3 malocclusions refer to underbites, crossbites are other forms of misalignment.
Natural Teeth: These are the teeth that erupt naturally into your mouth. The term “natural teeth” refers both to deciduous teeth—baby teeth, milk teeth, etc.—as well as adult or permanent teeth. Damaged or missing natural teeth can lead to any number of oral diseases the worst of which is likely a less radiant smile. Fortunately, dentists and dental surgeons can replace natural teeth with natural-looking artificial teeth to restore dental and oral health and brighten smiles.
Occlusion: Occlusion refers to the alignment of mandibular and maxillary chewing and biting surfaces. This includes the alignment of the upper and lower jaw, upper and lower teeth and even the tongue and the palate. Modern dental treatments can fix just about any misalignments—or malocclusions—with varying degrees of intrusiveness and success.
Palate: The palate is the combination of hard and soft tissue that forms the roof of the mouth. It separates the oral cavity (mouth) that houses all of your pearlescent teeth from your nasal cavities.
Xerostomia: Xerostomia is the clinical term for “dry mouth”. Those who suffer from xerostomia don’t produce enough saliva to keep the inside of their mouth wet. Dry mouth drastically increases your chances of developing gum disease and dental caries. Xerostomia is often a side effect of medication.
The A to Z of Dentistry
At Dawson Dental, we believe that a healthier, happier and more luminous smile is never more than an informed brush of the teeth away. And when we aren’t spreading the good word of dentistry far and wide, we’re making whiter smiles with our comprehensive dental services. Book your next appointment with us today.
Your smile says a lot about you. That’s why protecting your pearly white teeth is so important. Of course, any good dental care routine starts with brushing and flossing twice daily but it shouldn’t end there.
The foods and beverages that we consume can and do have a lasting impact on our oral and dental health. Too many sugary sports drinks and lollipops can lead you down the road to dental caries and root canals faster than you can say, “Ah!” And even the sweet taste of seemingly healthy all-natural fruit juices can hide cavity-causing ingredients.
Of all of the foods and drinks that we consume, acidic foods that erode tooth enamel and encourage dental plaque are, perhaps, the worst for our smiles. If you want a smile that shines as brightly as you do then you’ll want to avoid these acidic foods and drinks—or consume them with caution.
How Acidity Affects Your Smile
Scientists measure acidity using the pH scale (or potential of hydrogen scale). The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with lower numbers indicating higher acidity and higher numbers indicating greater alkalinity. Substances and compounds that rank at either end of the pH scale are highly corrosive and can be harmful to health—and healthy smiles. Fortunately, our mouths naturally have a neutral pH level of anywhere between 6.2 and 7.6.
An imbalanced oral pH level, even if only temporary, can cause enamel erosion, tooth sensitivity, and horrifyingly bad breath. If for no other reason than producing an alpine-fresh smile, it’s important to monitor your oral pH level.
One of the main reasons that dentists recommend brushing and flossing twice daily is to remove dental plaque as, over time, the bacteria that cause plaque buildup produce acids. And, as we’re about to learn, acids are no friend to big, bright smiles.
Acidic Foods and Drinks
- Citrus Fruits
Lemons and limes have a pH level of anywhere between 2 and 2.6 on average. For all of their health benefits—hello Vitamin C—it’s difficult to find anything edible with a greater level of acidity. Even diluted in water, lemon and lime juice can erode tooth enamel very quickly.
Soda beverages such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and Canada Dry are shockingly acidic. A 2017 study found that soda beverages and all of their flavour variations had pH levels ranging from 2.3 to 5.24 with most falling in the range of 2.3 to 3.0. That’s only slightly better than undiluted lemon and lime juice but more of a concern because of their serving sizes and palatability.
Alcohol has uses as a social lubricant and icebreaker… just don’t smile too much when you’re drinking it. Many popular alcoholic beverages such as red and white wine, cider, and champagne have very low pH levels. Darker beverages such as rum and cognac tended to be less acidic but gin was the most neutral with a pH level of 7. Nevertheless, drink responsibly.
- Sports Drinks
The same 2017 study that looked at the acidity of soda beverages found that sports drinks weren’t much better for your smile. Though the average pH level of sports drinks was closer to 3, many of them would cause just as much tooth erosion as a glass of soda topped off with lemon juice.
- Coffee (It’s True, We’re Sorry)
If you’re anything like us, you need coffee to get going in the morning—and to keep going throughout the day. That morning cup of go-go juice, however, does some damage to your teeth. A 2018 study found that cold brew and hot brewed coffee had pH levels ranging from 4.85 to 5.13. While that’s not nearly as acidic as a cupful of lemon juice, it’s enough to cause enamel erosion and leave you with a less than radiant—albeit energetic—smile.
There are definitely more acidic foods out there—apples, grapes, and ketchup for example feature on most lists of acidic foods and drinks. If you’re uncertain about the acidity of any given food item, you can always look it up online. However, just because a food item or beverage is acidotic doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy it. And keep your teeth.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay from Acidic Foods
Changing your diet for health reasons is never easy. But protecting your teeth from acidic foods and drinks and preventing tooth decay is a cinch.
Floss and Brush Your Teeth Twice Daily
Sometimes, maintaining your oral pH level is as simple as brushing and flossing your teeth twice every day. Flossing removes debris from potentially acidic foods while brushing removes plaque buildup from acid-producing bacteria.
Use a Fluoride Toothpaste
The American Dental Association has, for years, recognized the benefits of fluoride in creating brighter smiles. Fluoride toothpaste can help prevent tooth decay and reduce your chances of developing dental caries (or cavities).
Use a Straw
Drinking acidic beverages through a straw can reduce the amount of contact they’ll have with your sensitive teeth and enamel. It might not look glamorous to drink everything through a straw like a child but you can laugh at everyone else when you win the Annual Brightest Smile Contest.
Rinse Your Mouth with Water
We need coffee! If staying clear of acidic foods isn’t in your dietary future then you can still enjoy all of your low-pH fares and keep your smile. Rinse out your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods to rebalance your oral pH level. For an added boost to your dental health, make it a warm salt rinse.
Find a Dentist Near You
Even if you’ve been carefully taking care of your teeth and dodging acidic foods and drinks, you’ll still need the help of a dentist for a vibrant smile. Dawson Dental has over 30 locations across southern Ontario. Find our office nearest to you and come show us that acid-free smile!
Imagine this scenario. You’ve just finished flossing and brushing your teeth when, as you reach into your medicine cabinet to get your mouthwash, you make a heartbreaking discovery. Your big one-litre bottle of mouthwash is all empty. Your twice-daily oral care routine is now as good as mud. There will be no peppermint-fresh, spearmint-pure, alpine-pristine smile for you. Unless… what’s that lurking behind the empty bottle of mouthwash? Why, it’s the hydrogen peroxide you bought ages ago then used once, and totally forgot about! Your smile is saved! Or is it?
When used properly, hydrogen peroxide is great for cleaning and disinfecting our homes—and even, sometimes, minor cuts and scrapes. But the question you’re now faced with is whether or not it also makes for a safe and effective oral rinse.
If you’ve ever gone to the dentist to have your teeth whitened, then you would likely know that dentists store and use hydrogen peroxide. Quite apart from its whitening effect on our teeth, dentists value this chemical compound for its antibacterial properties. Right about now, you might be thinking that you’ve found the perfect teeth whitening mouthwash and that you can finally finish your oral care routine. But before you go and improvise an oral concoction, read this quick guide to hydrogen peroxide mouthwash—you just might have to run out to the drug store after all.
What is Hydrogen Peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is an oxidizing chemical compound with antiviral, antiseptic, and antibacterial properties. In simpler terms, it cleans stuff.
Almost all drug stores and pharmacies sell hydrogen peroxide in liquid form in concentrations ranging from 3%-6%. Even at those lower concentrations, however, hydrogen peroxide is extremely corrosive. For both internal and external personal use, most healthcare professionals wouldn’t recommend using hydrogen peroxide in concentrations over 0.5% unless under their supervision or with their instruction.
Fun fact: you can send a man to the moon with that little brown bottle of H2O2! But don’t worry, we’re not recommending that you use rocket fuel as mouthwash. Hydrogen peroxide only works as a propellant at concentrations of 90% or more. Needless to say, that’s significantly higher than the commercially available 3% solutions sold in drug stores—and way higher than the 0.5% recommended concentration for household and personal use. A hydrogen peroxide mouthwash may give you an angelic smile but if you use it properly, it shouldn’t send you soaring into the heavens.
Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe to Use as Mouthwash?
The short answer is, “Yes.” If used properly—and sparingly—H2O2 is safe and can improve oral and dental health and even help to fend off viral infections. That doesn’t mean that this alternative to traditional, over-the-counter mouthwashes doesn’t come without some risks.
- Protect Your Enamel: Hydrogen peroxide is corrosive. While that means that it can whiten teeth, it also means that it can damage them. A 2007 study found, perhaps unsurprisingly, that higher concentrations of H2O2 did increasing amounts of damage to teeth while in-vitro. However, higher concentrations weren’t necessary to do significant damage. The longer the exposure—regardless of the strength of the concentration—the more damage there was. If you’re going to be using a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash, keep the rinsing limited to 30 seconds.
- Spit it Out: Another name for hydrogen peroxide is oxygenated water. If that sounds like a marketing gimmick… that’s because it kind of is. Oxygenated water can also refer to a consumer water product aimed mostly at athletes. While the refreshing beverage product is safe for consumption, hydrogen peroxide is absolutely not. If you’re using it as a mouth rinse, be sure to spit it out. If ingested, it can cause damage to the digestive tract, nausea, and vomiting. And those are the milder side effects.
- Black Hairy Tongue: It sounds worse than it is. Black hairy tongue describes a condition where your tongue looks, well, black and hairy. It is a temporary condition that occurs when the little bumps on your tongue (circumvallate papillae) turn black. Though there are several potential causes of black hairy tongue such as dry mouth and smoking, oxidizing agents can also cause the condition. If this happens to you, there’s no need to panic but you may want to consult your dentist about potential remedies.
Of course, it’s not all black tongues and rocket fuel. Hydrogen peroxide does also offer some benefits as a mouthwash.
- Fight Off Infections: The antiviral and antimicrobial properties of hydrogen peroxide make it a great candidate for fighting off infections. If you have a bacterial or viral infection in your throat—yes, even including COVID—hydrogen peroxide can reduce the amount of infection and provide temporary relief from symptoms such as sore throat and coughs caused by hardened mucous.
- Keeping Your Gums Clean: A 2017 report found that rocket fuel hydrogen peroxide was effective at improving dental and oral health by reducing the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Specifically, the report found a drop in Porphyromonas gingivalis—a bacteria known to cause gum disease. Further, most dentists recognize that hydrogen peroxide can provide temporary relief from the symptoms of gingivitis and help to heal bleeding gums and canker sores.
Note that most dentists do not believe that using hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash can noticeably whiten teeth. However, it can reduce gum inflammation and relieve the symptoms of gingivitis.
How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide as Mouthwash
Making a safe and effective hydrogen peroxide mouthwash at home is pretty simple. If you have a 3% solution, you’ll want to dilute it by combining 1 part of hydrogen peroxide with at least 2 parts of water. Rinse your mouth with the diluted solution as you normally would for not more than 30 seconds. Be sure not to swallow any of the solution and rinse your mouth out with plain water after if you feel the need.
Just like with regular mouthwash, you may experience a temporary burning sensation that eases quickly. However, if the burning sensation is intense or worsens, spit out the solution immediately, rinse your mouth out with water and contact your dentist.
A diluted hydrogen peroxide solution isn’t the only type of mouthwash that you can improvise at home.
- Salt Water: Saltwater rinses balance your mouth’s pH level, can provide similar relief from the symptoms of gum disease, and reduce the number of harmful bacteria in your mouth. Furthermore, saltwater won’t have the same corrosive effect on your teeth’s enamel as hydrogen peroxide would. Not to mention, accidentally swallowing some saltwater isn’t a cause for alarm—but you should still spit it out.
- Baking Soda: Mixing half of a teaspoon of baking soda into a full glass of water is another great homemade mouthwash that can help combat bad breath.
Your Dentist Knows the Best Mouthwash for You
If you find yourself with an empty bottle of mouthwash, you can still complete your oral routine. Whether you opt for a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash, a saltwater rinse, or a baking soda and water blend, there are plenty of DIY mouthwashes you can make at home. Even so, you’ll want to make the trip to the pharmacy or drug store at some point as most dentists wouldn’t recommend prolonged use of improvised mouthwashes except in rare cases.
Toilet paper stuck to your shoe. Spinach stuck to your teeth. An open fly. Those are all pretty embarrassing instances. Few things, however, are as embarrassing as bad breath. Even if you have a perfectly minty-fresh smile and can exaggerate the letters “h” and “o” with confidence, trying to tell someone else that they have bad breath can be even more awkward.
Awkward as it might be, however, identifying the cause of bad breath is the first step towards a smile that doesn’t make flowers wilt and woodland creatures scurry away. Trying to find the source of bad breath, however, isn’t so simple—even the bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract can contribute to bad breath. And avoiding awkward social situations could be the least of your concerns. Halitosis—the medical term for bad breath—could be an indication of periodontal disease or a more severe health condition.
Overall Oral Health
Minty fresh breath begins and ends with good dental and oral hygiene habits. It might sound like tired advice but brushing your teeth and flossing twice daily—once in the morning and once before bedtime—is the dentist-recommended strategy for a healthy mouth and happy smile.
Overnight, even if we did brush and floss before we crawled into bed, odour-causing bacteria grow and multiply within our mouths. Those bad bacteria thrive on food particles leftover in our mouth. Brushing and flossing before getting into bed deprive those bacteria of most of the fuel they need to create noxious breath odours. Our morning dental care routine provides us with the opportunity to once again keep those bacteria at bay—unless, of course, you enjoy the thought of tiny bacteria eating your breakfast for you.
The American Dental Association provides a great “how-to-guide” on the proper brushing technique to maintain great oral health.
Strongly Flavoured Foods and Drinks
There’s a reason that Dracula is afraid of garlic… bad breath! Turns out, the Prince of Darkness is just trying to maintain his minty fresh—albeit a little macabre—smile.
Certain foods such as garlic, onions, and certain spices carry chemicals that can cause halitosis. Unfortunately, combating bad breath caused by garlic bread and French onion soup isn’t as simple as rinsing your mouth out with mouthwash. The odour-causing chemicals from these foods enter your bloodstream and find their way into your lungs.
Now, before you try to rinse out your lungs with holy water, there are easier ways to ward off Count Dracula and combat bad breath caused by food. One could always avoid eating those foods but no one wants fresh breath badly enough to give up garlic butter. Instead, try to drink plenty of water when you eat odour-causing foods as it can reduce the concentration of the odour causing chemicals in your bloodstream.
Our saliva plays a huge role in keeping our mouths clean and healthy. Saliva remineralizes our teeth and helps to protect our gums by washing away food particles and odour causing bacteria. It’s also, mostly, water.
Odour causing bacteria thrive in a dry mouth where there isn’t sufficient mineral-rich saliva to wash them away and deprive them of their fuel source, i.e., food particles. Drink plenty of water to keep your mouth moist and to drown out odour causing bacteria. Knowing exactly how much water you need to maintain good oral hygiene and overall health, however, isn’t a simple science. Fortunately, there are some basic hydration rules you can follow.
If maintaining proper hydration isn’t helping you in your fight against halitosis, it may be an indication that you have a salivary gland disorder such as sialadenitis. Consult with your dentist or doctor.
Smoking & Tobacco Products
Health Canada has strict requirements for the labelling of tobacco products sold within the country. Most of the health warning labels pertain to the carcinogenic effects of cigarettes and related products. But did you know that smoking cigarettes or consuming other tobacco products can cause other health problems such as bad breath?
Nicotine and many of the other compounds in the average cigarette cause your mouth to dry out. And, as we now know, a dry mouth encourages the growth of odour causing bacteria. Additionally, smoking greatly increases your chances of developing gum disease and oral cancers which, in turn, can make already bad breath totally unbearable.
The best strategy for combating breath odours caused by tobacco products is to kick the habit. Of course, for millions of Canadians, that’s easier said than done. If you’re having difficulty quitting tobacco products and are fed up with not having your freshest smile, talk to your doctor about developing a strategy for quitting. Your smile—and anyone within smelling distance—will thank you.
Gastrointestinal Tract Infections
In a weird kind of way, our body is just one big—and very terribly complex—organic plumbing system. If our mouth is like the sink and our gastrointestinal tract is like the pipes, then it stands to reason that odours originating in our pipes can affect the smell emanating from our sinks.
That’s exactly what a group of researchers in a 2010 study found to be true. They discovered that a majority of patients suffering from halitosis that did not originate from an oral or dental source had gastrointestinal or stomach infections.
Needless to say, that’s about where the analogy ends. We definitely do not recommend—in fact, we strongly advise against—trying to treat your bad breath with a drain cleaner. What works for your kitchen’s pipes will almost certainly not work for you.
We do, however, strongly recommend contacting your doctor if you are exhibiting signs of a gastrointestinal tract infection or disorder such as nausea, vomiting, dehydration, unexplained weight loss, or irregular bowel movements.
Talk to Your Dentist About Getting Minty Fresh Breath
There are many potential causes of bad breath. If you’re still struggling to get a smile that is as welcoming as you are, talk to your dentist. Book your next appointment with Dawson Dental today—and for those who are still too shy about their bad breath, we offer virtual consultations.