We all know how important brushing and flossing are to healthy teeth, but is that all you need? The truth is, you can get by with brushing and flossing as long as you do it regularly and correctly. However, it never hurts to go the extra mile when it comes to your oral health. Adding a good mouthwash can boost your oral hygiene, especially if you are wearing braces.
You’re probably wondering, “can I use mouthwash with braces?” Will mouthwash somehow damage or tarnish your braces? Can you use mouthwash with Invisalign? At Ohana Orthodontics, we know you may have a lot of questions about your treatment with braces or Invisalign, including using mouthwash with braces. We have all the information you need on using mouthwash to improve your oral health.
Can I Use Mouthwash With Braces?
Fluoride mouthwash is great for oral hygiene because it provides extra protection for your enamel, washes away bacteria, keeps your mouth moist to reduce bacteria production, and makes your breath fresh. Can mouthwash harm your braces? Some people wonder whether the alcohol or other active ingredients in the mouthwash could discolor your braces. When it comes to metal braces, the answer is no. Mouthwash will not harm, tarnish, or discolor your braces.
Clear braces are another matter. Brightly colored mouthwash will not stain the ceramic brackets themselves, because they are designed to be stain-resistant. However, over time it could discolor the elastic bands that go around your brackets, particularly if you use clear or white elastics. The good news is, those get changed out each time you visit Ohana Orthodontics for your regular checkup, so the stains won’t stick around for long, if they stain at all.
Mouthwash shouldn’t be used with clear aligners. Take them out before you use mouthwash, then replace them once you’re done.
When Should I Use Mouthwash With Braces?
Most people think the best time to use mouthwash is right after you brush. However, if you want the maximum protection for your teeth, you need to wait at least half an hour after you brush before using mouthwash. Why? Because that’s how long it takes for the fluoride in your toothpaste to chemically react with your saliva to coat and protect your enamel — your tooth’s hard, protective outer shell.
After that, use your mouthwash, but don’t eat or drink anything for half an hour, just like with the toothpaste. It gives the fluoride in the mouthwash time to work. The half-hour wait for each means you get double the protection power!
How Often Should I Use Mouthwash With Braces?
If you’re going to use mouthwash regularly, use it at least once a day. You’ll want to use it twice a day, though, for the best effect. Does this mean using it after brushing both times? Not necessarily. If you’re unable to brush after lunch, for instance, you can use mouthwash to help rinse food particles, plaque, and bacteria from your teeth. It’s not a substitute for brushing, but it’s better than nothing, and it will give you fresh breath after lunch.
Can I Use Mouthwash Instead of Brushing?
You may be running late in the morning and think that a quick swish of mouthwash is enough without having to brush. It happens every once in a while. No harm, no foul, right? Wrong. Mouthwash is no substitute for brushing and flossing. While it can remove some plaque and food particles, it can’t scrub plaque off your teeth, which is what brushing and flossing do.
Without proper brushing and flossing, plaque builds up and becomes tartar. This hard substance traps bacteria against your teeth and gums, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Treating cavities or gum disease can slow your braces treatment time, so it’s important that you brush and floss at least twice daily. THEN you can use your mouthwash.
Can My Mouthwash Expire?
That old, giant bottle of mouthwash you’ve been using since 2016? It’s probably time to throw it out. Mouthwash expires after a couple of years, and that’s assuming you’ve stored it in a cool, dark place. Medicated mouthwash will lose its potency after a couple of years, so it will need to be tossed out, too.
There are two types of mouthwash: Cosmetic and Therapeutic. Cosmetic mouthwash lacks additional fluoride, minerals, or other ingredients that would be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Essentially, cosmetic mouthwash only freshens your breath. It probably has an expiration date, but it’s not required by the FDA as it is with therapeutic mouthwash. Technically, you can use it after the expiration date, but it will probably discolor and sour after a while. It’s best to replace it once it expires.
Therapeutic mouthwash has additional ingredients that are regulated by the FDA. This could include fluoride to strengthen your teeth, chlorhexidine, or cetylpyridinium chloride, both of which are used to reduce bacteria and inflammation from gingivitis. Therapeutic mouthwash has an expiration date, and you should change out the mouthwash as soon as it expires. That’s because the active ingredients in the mouthwash will lose their potency and become less effective. If you have gingivitis, you won’t get as much relief once the mouthwash expires.
Benefits of Mouthwash and Braces
Mouthwash has lots of great benefits. It can help reduce bacteria and rinse away food particles. It can provide moisture to prevent dry mouth and can freshen your breath. Fluoride mouthwash can provide extra protection for your enamel. Mouthwash is a great supplemental tool to battle tooth decay and gum disease, with or without braces. It’s also safe to use with braces.
If you want more information on mouthwash and braces, or braces treatment in the Canby, OR, area, Ohana Orthodontics is here to help. Schedule an appointment with us, and we will provide a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about braces treatment and mouthwash.