A NORTH East dentist has warned of the dangers of masking bad breath and gum problems with mouthwash, fearing people could be putting their health at risk in an effort to stay fresh.

Dr Richard Coates of Riveredge Cosmetic Dentistry is concerned about people risking long-term damage or serious illness by skipping dental check-ups in favour of mouthwash or toothpaste which claim to deliver better breath and oral health.

Dr Coates, who works at the award-winning practice alongside world-renowned Dr Ken Harris, is concerned that clever advertising and marketing campaigns could be driving people to rely too heavily on such products.

“Many of these products simply address the side effects or symptoms of disease rather than addressing a genuine treatment or solution for the disease which is the cause of the bad breath,” he explained.

“Marketing on this basis misleads patients into avoiding consultation with dental professionals.

“This is particularly relevant when we talk about ongoing gum disease (periodontitis) which we know can lead to bleeding gums, bad breath and eventual loss of teeth, not to mention systemic disease of the lungs and heart.”

Dr Coates’ warning follows recent news reports about products which can keep breath fresh for up to 12 hours and also help strengthen teeth and reduce cavities.

He believes that while they do generally have a lot of benefits, they should not be used to replace a visit to the dentist.

“Products like chlorhexidine mouthwashes can’t successfully treat gum disease on their own, although with good thorough periodontal treatment by a dental professional may help in the successful treatment of such a condition,” he said.

“Gum disease is a complicated condition which requires professional management of the types of bacteria in the mouth and a regular review of the patient’s own immune response to the bacteria present.

“I would urge the public to beware of the promises given by companies who are profit driven. All dentists prefer to treat disease early which is far more successful than waiting for loose teeth or uncontrolled bleeding from gums.

“We fear by encouragement to use mouthwashes or toothpaste only, people can unwittingly leave certain conditions until they are untreatable, and nobody wants that.”

Riveredge Cosmetic Dentistry is a multi-award winning practice run by Dr Ken Harris, one of the UK’s leading cosmetic dentists, with surgeries in Sunderland and Newcastle.

For further information visit www.riveredge.co.uk or call 0191 567 1020.