Many dentists believe that twice-daily brushing with a fluoride toothpaste provides enough fluoride for cavity protection. But if you're prone to cavities, you can use a fluoride mouth rinse in addition to brushing and flossing your teeth.
Some studies have shown that mouth rinses with fluoride can supplement daily brushing with fluoride toothpastes, especially in areas where drinking water is not supplemented with fluoride. These rinses are effective in strengthening the enamel of your teeth and protecting your teeth from acid damage; however, the rinses have not demonstrated significant effectiveness against plaque-induced gingivitis or even more severe forms of gum disease. Yet another reason to brush and floss daily.
If you want to use a fluoride rinse, follow these steps:
- Use the right amount. Use the amount of rinse indicated on the label or as directed by your dentist.
- Swish like you mean it. Keep your mouth closed and swish the rinse vigorously as directed on the label.
- Spit. Don't swallow mouth rinse. The fluoride in most fluoride rinses can be toxic if you swallow large enough amounts. If you allow your child to use mouthwash, supervise to be sure that he or she spits it out and doesn't swallow it.
To get the most benefit from a fluoride mouthwash, avoid eating, drinking, or smoking for at least 30 minutes so you don't wash away the fluoride.