Understanding Different Kinds of Mouthwashes

posted by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 11/14/2023 in General

woman in bathroom standing over sink and looking in mirror while using mouthwash

You've diligently brushed your teeth for two minutes, and carefully flossed each tooth. Now, your oral hygiene routine is complete, correct? Oops! You’re forgetting a critical step: rinsing your mouth for at least one minute with mouthwash. This seemingly minor action can have a major impact on your oral well-being. Discover how mouthwash can benefit your teeth, mouth, and gums, and see if you're using the right type to enhance your oral health.

How Mouthwash Improves Your Oral Health

Mouthwash, also known as mouth rinse, is a liquid you swish in your mouth to remove food particles that a manual toothbrush, electric toothbrush, or dental floss cannot reach. Mouthwash is often formulated with alcohol, cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), chlorhexidine, and other ingredients that help kill the bacteria in your mouth that are responsible for bad breath or cavities. Adding mouthwash to your dental hygiene routine is an easy way to keep your teeth clean and healthy.

Best practices for using mouthwash:

  1. Choose a mouthwash with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal. This means the product is in compliance with the association’s strict guidelines and its claims are backed by scientific evidence. 
  2. Use only the allocated amount. Most mouthwash bottles come with a premarked lid that indicates how much mouthwash to use. 
  3. Do not swallow the mouthwash at any time. Swallowing mouthwash can be dangerous and even small amounts may cause you to feel dizzy or intoxicated.
  4. Be thorough. Swish the solution all around your mouth for at least one minute. Don’t neglect your upper gum or lower front teeth area.
  5. Do not rinse with water. Once you’ve spit the solution into the sink, do not rinse your mouth with water. The mouthwash needs to stay on your teeth for prolonged protection.

If you're using a prescription mouthwash or a specialized solution recommended by your doctor, make sure to follow the specific instructions on the bottle and your doctor's recommendations.

Different Types of Mouthwash 

With such an extensive selection of mouthwashes available, it can be challenging to determine the right one for your needs. Fortunately, our detailed breakdown makes the decision much easier. Discover which option is the perfect choice for you.

Cosmetic Mouthwash: Eliminates Bad Breath (Temporarily)  

If your sole focus is to get rid of bad breath before going on a date or meeting friends, cosmetic mouthwashes are the answer. These mouthwashes do not have antimicrobial properties and are not formulated to kill bacteria, but they do leave a pleasant taste in your mouth and temporarily eliminate bad breath.

Antiseptic (Therapeutic) Mouthwash: Kills Bad-Breath Bacteria

To kill bacteria, antiseptic or therapeutic mouthwashes are recommended. These are the most common types of mouthwash; they are alcohol-based and formulated to eliminate the bacteria responsible for oral conditions such as gum infections, bad breath and halitosis. This means antiseptic mouthwashes like Crest Breath Bacteria Blast or Listerine can get rid of bad bacteria for a longer period of time and also reduce your chances of experiencing plaque, gingivitis, cavities, and other oral conditions.

Alcohol-Free and Natural Mouthwashes: Ideal For Sensitive Teeth

Although alcohol is often a main ingredient in mouthwashes, it can be an irritant for children, people with sensitive teeth, recovering alcoholics, and those who recently underwent a dental procedure. For these individuals, an alcohol-free mouthwash like Listerine Sensitivity Zero Alcohol or a natural mouthwash is a wiser choice.

Kid-Friendly Mouthwash: For Children Six Years and Older

Want to add mouthwash to your child's oral hygiene routine? The American Dental Association recommends children aged six and older can use mouthwash. By this age, children are less likely to accidentally swallow mouthwash, reducing the risk of exposing themselves to excessive fluoride. Listerine® Smart Rinse® kids mouthwash collection offers an array of fun flavors that will appeal to children.

Fluoride Mouthwash: Remineralize Tooth Enamel and Prevent Future Cavities

If you're looking to remineralize tooth enamel damaged by cavities, fluoride mouthwash like Listerine Total Care Anticavity Fluoride can strengthen your enamel and make your teeth resistant to future tooth decay and cavities. To maximize the effectiveness of fluoride mouthwash, rinse before brushing and remember to avoid rinsing your mouth with water after using mouthwash. 

Plaque-Preventing Mouthwash: Stop Plaque Buildup

Although plaque is a normal occurrence, plaque buildup should be avoided because it can lead to tooth decay and tartar, the hardened form of plaque buildup. Fortunately, mouthwashes formulated with chlorhexidine can prevent plaque buildup. Oral-B 24 Hour Plaque Defense is a popular choice to fight plaque.

Whitening Mouthwash: Make Your Teeth Pearly White 

Just like toothpaste, there are mouthwashes such as Crest 3D White Diamond Strong that are specifically formulated to prevent or remove stains on your teeth, helping them be whiter and brighter. Keep in mind, the results of these mouthwashes may not be as effective as the professional teeth whitening services provided by your dentist. However, whitening mouthwash is a convenient way to combat stains after drinking coffee or eating foods that can change the color of your teeth. 

Dry Mouth Mouthwash: Keep Your Mouth Hydrated

If you experience dry mouth, using an oral solution like the popular Biotène® Dry Mouth Oral Rinse, can help keep your mouth hydrated and provide relief from dryness, bad breath, and other symptoms for up to four hours. To find the right dry mouth oral rinse for your specific needs, consult with your dentist.

Other Mouthwash Options: For Gum Disease or Mouth Sores

Beyond alleviating dry mouth, there are specific mouthwashes that can help you manage oral conditions such as gum disease or mouth sores. TheraBreath Healthy Gums and Orajel™ Antiseptic Mouth Sore Rinse are  two mouthwashes you can choose for these respective conditions. Your dentist can also provide appropriate recommendations based on your treatment plan. 

Elevate Your Oral Health With a Kimball & Beecher Dentist

Mouthwash is just one part of a healthy dental routine. Fortunately, the skilled team at Kimball & Beecher can help you develop good habits and get the specific care you need. Schedule your appointment today with a Kimball & Beecher dentist near you.

About The Author

Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS

Dr. Beau Beecher is the founder and CEO, of Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry. Kimball and Beecher Family Dentistry is known for being a patient-centered practice that puts comfort and convenience first. Over 50,000 patients in Iowa cities travel miles to experience the high level of ... read more

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