Posted By: Amanda Banks, RDH
A preprocedural rinse is exactly what it sounds like; a mouth rinse used before a procedure. In 2003, the CDC described preprocedural mouth rinses as antimicrobial mouth rinses used by patients before a dental procedure. The point and purpose of this rinse are to reduce the number of microorganisms that a patient might release in the form of aerosols and splatter that can contaminate the dental health care professional or patient. As a patient, when you swish with a mouth rinse, you dramatically lower the number of bacteria in your mouth, and that lowers the amount of bacteria that can get into the air or into your bloodstream during dental procedures. There’s a good chance you’ve never heard of doing this before, but it is becoming more common as more research is done and more benefits are acknowledged.
What are the benefits?
We try our best to prevent any contamination in our office. Everything that goes in your mouth is either sterilized or disposed of. However, one thing that is hard to control is the amount of bacteria that gets into the air. Certain dental procedures produce aerosols. “Aerosols” in this case refers to microorganisms that have been put into the air because of the procedure. These microorganisms can remain in the air for a while, be breathed in, and land on other surfaces.
For some patients with very specific health concerns, it is recommended that they take an antibiotic prior to their dental appointment. This is because there is a risk of oral bacteria getting into the bloodstream during certain dental procedures, and this is particularly bad for certain patients. In theory, using a mouth rinse that dramatically reduces the bacteria in the mouth before the procedure begins is a good thing in order to help prevent bacteremias (the presence of bacteria in the blood). Unfortunately, how much the rinse actually helps is something that is difficult to research. From what I have read, research hasn’t shown significant benefits, but we almost have to assume it helps. Either way, we encourage many of our patients to use mouth rinse as part of their regular routine, so using the mouth rinse certainly isn’t a bad thing, even if the extent of the benefits are unclear. It will make your breath smell good at the very least!
Does it matter which rinse we use?
People ask us about mouthrinses often, but for home use of course. At home, some people may need a rinse that helps with dry mouth, helps prevent tooth decay, or keeps away bad breath. Just like how all rinses are not created equal for your home use, not all rinses are created equal for pre-procedural rinsing purposes. We are committed to your oral health, and that means we are committed to things like figuring out which rinse is best. Research has shown that Chlorhexidine rinse, rinses containing CPC, and essential oil rinses are very effective at reducing bacteria. Rinsing with just water, or a fluoride rinse without those other ingredients has very little effect on bacteria count.
Chlorhexidine rinse has been the go-to in dental offices for years, and we do use it in our office.
Rinses containing 0.05 percent of cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), such as Colgate Total brand mouth rinses, have been shown to be as effective as chlorhexidine for reducing microbes in the mouth before treatment, and it is considered by most people to have a better taste.
An essential oil rinse may also have the same bacteria reducing benefits. New essential oil products are popping up everywhere as more and more people are looking for natural alternatives, but there is still a lot of research to be done on their effectiveness. We are doing our best to look into these products for you and may recommend them for you as we see more of the benefits.
So, do I have to do that now?
In the textbook Infection Control and Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team, they say that “The application of antiseptics to the skin or mucous membranes before surgery or injections has been practiced for many years. The goal of such an application is to reduce the number of microorganisms on the surface to prevent their entry to underlying tissues, which could cause bacteremia, septicemia, or local harmful infections.” They make a good point. If you go to the doctor and get a shot, they rub your skin with something first to disinfect it. We are used to that. This is the same idea, but for your mouth. While at this point you do not have to do it, we may ask you to do so for your benefit as well as ours.
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At Greenway Dental Care, we proudly offer a full range of dental services for patients of all ages. Greenway Dental Care and our team works with each of our patients on an individual basis to assess their needs and build a comprehensive treatment plan that is right for them. To schedule an appointment, call (479) 217-3178 or request an appointment online.