Mouth Wash – The More You Know…

Mouthwash is used as a part of your oral hygiene regime. It is known as a chemotherapeutic agent. It should be used in conjunction with brushing and flossing but not instead of brushing and flossing. Many manufacturers claim that their mouthwash product provides a myriad of health benefits, such as anti-plaque and anti-septic attributes, for example. Many mouthwashes say that they can eliminate oral hygiene problems such halitosis, cavities and gingivitis. However of the three (brushing, flossing, mouth washing), mouthwash is the least necessary as usually if you brush and floss effectively then that should be enough. That is not to say though that certain mouthwashes have not received seals of approval from dental governing bodies.

The earliest known references to mouthwash or mouth rinsing go as far back as 2700 BC! There are references in ancient Chinese medicine and Ayurveda (Indian medicine) to the use of mouth rinses as a treatment for gingivitis. In the Greek and Roman periods later on it was in vogue for the upper classes, after a mechanical clean (flossing?), to use a mouth rinse. Famous historical medical figure Hippocrates (the one whom the Hippocratic oath was named after) suggested that a mix of salt, alum and vinegar was a good choice. The Jewish Talmud (a central instructional text of Judaism) around 1800 years ago also references mouth washing- suggesting that to deal with gum problems an olive oil and dough water rinse would be a good choice.

A true scientific breakthrough in mouthwash technology did not occur until the 17th century, when esteemed microscopist Anton van Leeuwenhoek discovered motile living organisms living in deposits on teeth. This is now known as dental plaque. He conducted an experiment that tested anti-biological substances (in this case vinegar and brandy) on micro organisms suspended in water and the micro organisms in the mouth. He found that while the water suspended microorganisms were eliminated instantly the mouth based ones were not. He found that either the mouth rinse did not reach or was not present long enough to eliminate the plaque.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that a breakthrough was made by a professor at the Royal Dental College in Aarhus, Denmark, a certain HaraldLoe. He was able to demonstrate that a chlorhexidine compound was able to effectively prevent plaque buildup. The reasons for chlorhexidine’s effectiveness is that it adheres to the insides of the mouth well. This allows it to remain in strong enough concentrations for long enough to work.

This was the beginning of mouthwash as we know it today. Since this development many companies have attempted to outdo each other, building on this breakthrough.

If you are looking to give your mouth a refresh beyond that of home hygiene products then seek out www.progressivedentistry.co.uk.

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