Dental professionals play an important role not only in oral health, but in human well-being in general. This gives dental care extra importance especially during epidemics, when cross-infection poses additional challenges. The good news is, you can do something about it.
There are two fronts on which the battle against viral and bacterial infection in dental care is fought: one is the dental office itself, and the other are your patient’s mouths. Paying attention to both of them can come a long way in helping your patients stay healthy.
First of all, nothing can replace any of the primary measures for preventing cross-infection among staff and patients in dental practices, such as washing hands, wearing protective clothing, regular disinfection of the office and others we’ve already written about.
Second, as infections start in the soft, mucous tissue of your patients, keeping their mouths healthy and well-protected can serve as a good additional level of protection, especially in post-surgery situations and during epidemics.
Read on to learn how infections work, how viruses and bacteria attack the mucous membranes, and why gargling and mouthwashing, although not meant as primary treatment of infection, are an important aid in prevention and prophylaxis.
How infections work
Very often, viruses and bacteria enter the body via nose and mouth, contaminating their mucous tissues. The infection then progresses further and infects organs in different parts of the body. If stopped early on, however, the infection can very well die off and not spread altogether. This is where you can help.
Instructing your patients on gargling with mouthwashes of proper composition can provide your patients with important additional protection from viral and bacterial infections. And although it’s not meant as primary means of protection, it can come useful during short-term, high-risk situations such as surgeries or epidemics.
How mouthwashes protect your mouth
Not all mouthwashes are created equal. Some are meant as permanent solutions, some for short-term use; and depending on the ingredients they contain, they either do or do not help against viruses and/or bacteria.
For protection against viral and bacterial infections, there are four important ingredients that you should look for in a mouthwash: chlorhexidine, cyclodextrins, Citrox® and hyaluronic acid with polymers.
These ingredients work the same way as you would disinfect a building: a team arrives on scene, spraying the interior with a solution that contains an antibacterial agent and polymers. The polymers create a thin protective film, while the active agents in it fight the harmful microbes, and solubilizers help their effort.
In a mouthwash, the situation is similar, with every ingredient doing its part:
- Chlorhexidin fights bacteria, binding to the mucosa and teeth
- Citrox® breaks down plaque and biofilm and attacks bacteria cell walls
- Cyclodextrins help deactivate viruses
- Polymers create a protective film to make effects last longer
- Hyaluronic acid supports mucous tissue regeneration and humidifies it
In the end, it’s complex care of the mucous tissues what helps protect the patient from becoming infected. And with mouth rinse procedures being fast and easy to apply, we believe that in the future, they will become even more important for keeping your patients healthy – especially in situations when the mucosa is exposed to physical stress such as after surgical procedures or during viral epidemics.