If there’s one thing dentists love to tell their patients, it’s that they’ve got to floss each day and brush their teeth in the morning and at night. Most of us are used to shrugging off this advice, but our dentists have a serious reason for reminding us to take care of our oral hygiene: if we don’t, we run the risk of developing periodontitis, better known as gum disease.
Along with brushing and flossing, many of us also use mouthwash to maintain oral hygiene. Yet conventional mouthwash, thanks to its alcohol content and chemical dyes, can harm more than it helps. Ozonated water can serve effectively in conventional mouthwash’s place, eliminating the unhealthy bacteria responsible for gum disease without causing alcohol-based mouthwash’s harmful side effects.
Gum Disease: The Basics
Here’s how gum disease arises: When plaque formed from bacteria and food particles stays on the teeth, it can harden into a thick, hard-to-remove substance known as tartar. Plaque can cause gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease where the gum tissue at the base of your teeth is inflamed. If gum inflammation persists, you can wind up with full-on periodontitis. At this stage, plaque, tartar, and bacteria will infect the spaces between your gums and teeth.
By infecting these areas, gum disease causes damage to the soft tissue in your mouth and can weaken the bones supporting your teeth. It can even destabilize your teeth or cause you to lose the teeth affected altogether. Diseased gums are also not so fun to look at: they are typically red or purple, puffy and swollen, and sometimes leave lower areas of the teeth exposed.
Dentists treat gum disease by scraping off plaque below the gum line using heavyweight mechanical tools. In some cases, they’ll have to lift back the gums through “flap surgery” to access the affected area, then sew them back up—a bit like unpeeling a banana and taping it back together. Needless to say, this sort of treatment can be intrusive and uncomfortable, especially if you don’t get along well with your dentist.
How Gum Disease Can Harm the Rest of You
Gum disease can have damaging effects that go beyond the gums themselves. Recent studies show that people with gum disease are at greater risk of suffering from heart problems. This is possibly because damaged gums will let harmful bacteria into the bloodstream, where they can worsen problems faced by the blood vessels, such as inflammation. For similar reasons, people with gum disease are more likely to experience a wide range of further health problems, from having a stroke or high blood pressure to developing arthritis or diabetes.
Inflammation of the gums in gum disease may precipitate inflammation elsewhere in the body, such as in the heart and lungs, which can cause more serious health complications. Because inflammation in one part of the body sends chemical signals to the rest of the body to become likewise inflamed, gum disease can make trouble where you’d least expect it—even causing blood vessel inflammation that leads to erectile dysfunction.
Gum disease is also associated with mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, and even dementia. In one study, gum disease was found to be associated with mental illness in a staggering 37% of cases. Evidence shows that gum disease correlates with the substance beta-amyloid accumulating in the brain—a major sign of Alzheimer’s. Infection by a bacteria known as Porphyromonas gingivalis, which gum disease lets in the gate, may cause this increase in beta-amyloid production. What’s more, breathing in Porphyromonas gingivalis from the mouth may increase your risk of lung cancer.
Clearly, gum disease is no laughing matter—and not just because you don’t want to show anybody your pus-ridden teeth.
How to Prevent Gum Disease with Good Oral Hygiene
That’s why dentists say it’s so important to brush and floss your teeth. Indeed, since the 1970s, we have been advised to brush our teeth for two minutes at a time in order to get rid of the plaque that threatens us with gum disease. Yet the latest research shows that brushing for so short a time isn’t actually enough to keep your teeth and gums safe from plaque. In fact, you’re better off brushing your teeth for double that time, alongside other methods to maintain oral hygiene. Using a mouthwash to disinfect your mouth is one such method. At its best, mouthwash helps remove food particles your floss and toothbrush missed, as well as killing off the harmful bacteria responsible for gum disease.
How Conventional Mouthwash Can Harm Your Body
Unfortunately, evidence shows that conventional mouthwash can do more harm than good. First off, the reaction between the bacteria-killing “anionic compounds” in toothpaste, which kill harmful bacteria, and the “cationic compounds” in conventional mouthwash, which are found in its high alcohol content, can dry out your mouth and cheeks. This reaction can damage the protective layer of your cheeks, leading to ulcers, and the resulting mouth dryness can irritate your oral tissues. Things only get worse from there: a dry mouth is robbed of healthy saliva, which you need to maintain good breath and supply the natural minerals that strengthen your teeth.
By weakening the protective layers of your teeth and gums, conventional mouthwash can make your teeth more vulnerable to staining from food and drink. The acid in over-the-counter mouthwash also weakens your teeth, while the dyes that give it that “minty green” color may be linked to some forms of cancer. Contrary to what glossy ad campaigns would have you believe, conventional mouthwash can actually worsen the problems it’s supposed to treat—and like gum disease itself, it can contribute to health problems elsewhere in your body.
The Solution: Use Ozonated Water as a Replacement for Conventional Mouthwash
Thankfully, you don’t have to settle for mouthwash that’s out to hurt you. A growing body of evidence recommends ozonated water as a replacement for conventional mouthwash. Ozonated water is water infused with ozone, or O3, a molecule containing three oxygen atoms. In an ozone molecule, two oxygen atoms form a basic oxygen molecule (O2), while the third acts as a “radical” loosely attached to the basic molecule. This third atom can easily attach to other molecules and break down their structure. In this way, ozonated water can destroy the cell walls of microorganisms, which means the bacteria to blame for gum disease are no match for this state-of-the-art disinfectant.
Ozonated water is used for sanitation purposes in many industries, including dentistry. Dentists are adopting ozonated water as a healthy and safe disinfectant, whether used before surgery, after tooth extraction, or to combat gum disease.
In one recent study, ozonated water was found to improve health outcomes for patients with moderate gingivitis—so much so that the study suggested ozonated water could serve as an alternative to specialized periodontal mouthwash. Other studies have found that ozonated water is effective at killing the bacteria responsible for periodontitis without damaging healthy oral tissue, making it a powerful tool to treat and prevent gum disease. Further studies show that ozonated water works as well as or even better as a mouthwash than chlorhexidine, another alternative to alcohol-based mouthwash.
BioSure Professional is a leading provider of ozonated water solutions for a wide range of industries, including dentistry. BioSure’s patented technology generates ozone through a unique electrolytic method. BioSure’s cutting-edge electrolytic ozone generators (EOGs) use electric currents to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The oxygen atoms come together in groups of three to form ozone molecules, which are then dissolved in water to make for a powerful disinfectant with a wide variety of applications.
Given ozonated water’s safety and efficiency as an oral disinfectant, it’s clear that conventional mouthwash’s time has come. So the next time you’re planning to gargle a cup of mouthwash, remember to use ozonated water instead—your teeth and gums need all the help they can get.