Mouthwash is a part of many people’s everyday hygiene. That said, not everyone uses the product best for their oral needs. This is because many varieties exist, with little information available to discern the differences.
A recent Dear Doctor article on mouth rinses aptly categorizes commercial products. According to the author, mouthwash is either cosmetic or therapeutic. Products in either category can be found in aisles or over-the-counter with a prescription.
Some mouthwashes target only odor and appearance. They improve the smell of one’s breath or whiten the teeth for a brighter smile. These products are benign and contribute little to oral hygiene. Some eliminate bacteria, but never as effectively as therapeutic products.
Therapeutic mouth rinses fight plaque and prevent cavities, gingivitis, and other gum diseases. These products complement regular brushing and flossing.
- Fluoride-based mouthwash: Fluoride exists in most toothpastes and in some tap water. For this reason, it is usually an unnecessary ingredient. Nevertheless, it protects against cavities and strengthens enamel.
- Alcohol–based mouthwash: Alcohol kills bacteria and viruses harshly. It dries out the mouth, aggravates cuts or burns, and exacerbates inflammation. Anyone with sensitivities should avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes and seek natural ingredients like aloe.
- Antibacterial mouthwash: Without alcohol—or with a smaller quantity—antibacterial mouthwash fights infections and minimizes the risk of gum disease. Some patients will receive a prescription for such rinses after surgery.
Different therapeutic mouthwashes offer unique oral advantages. If uncertain which applies to your situation, ask your family dentist!
Incorporate rinsing into your everyday routine, but never let it substitute brushing and flossing. Regardless how potent the solution, you need to brush and floss daily.