What You Need to Know about Mouthrinses

Mouthwash dispenser

Marea White DDS mouthwash dispenser

People use mouthrinses (or mouthwashes) for a number of reasons: to freshen breath, reduce plaque, reduce tartar, prevent or reduce gingivitis, prevent or control tooth decay, or a combination of these reasons.

If you are using any kind of mouthrinse make sure you’re using the right one for your needs, as there are several different kinds that are available, and some are just better than others.

What You’re Getting

There are some basic ingredients that are commonly found in most mouthrinses. They include water, flavoring ingredients, alcohol, and coloring agents, and vary depending on the type of mouthrinse you get. In fact, some mouthrinses are purely cosmetic, while others are considered therapeutic.

The cosmetic versions are generally used to temporarily control or reduce bad breath, but they don’t deal with the actual cause of the bad breath. Also, none of the cosmetic versions reduce plaque, cavities, or gingivitis, and sometimes contain large amounts of alcohol and sugar and can actually be harmful to your teeth.

Our Recommendation

We always recommend using the “therapeutic” versions which, depending on your specific oral health needs, come in a variety of options:

  • Antimicrobials reduce plaque, control bad breath, and reduce gum inflammation by decreasing the amount of harmful bacteria in your mouth.
  • Astringents constrict oral tissues and create a protective layer between the underlayers of tissue and the elements.
  • Anti-tartar solutions help remove the compounds that contribute to tartar buildup.
  • Fluoride rinses help prevent tooth decay and strengthen teeth.
  • Pain-relieving rinses may relieve soft-tissue pain by reducing acidity in the mouth and reducing the film buildup on the lining of your mouth.
  • Xylitol solutions have been shown to reduce dental caries and help prevent tooth decay.

There are two other types of mouthrinses that we want to go into a little more detail about: the antibacterial and antiseptic rinses. They are similar but have a couple of distinct differences.

Antibacterial rinses kill bacteria or hinder its reproduction, where antiseptic rinses inhibit the growth and reproduction of bacteria and microorganisms, as well as fungi, protozoa, and viruses.

The most notable difference between the two is that the antiseptic mouthrinses typically contain large amounts of alcohol, which can dry the mouth and aggravate bad breath.

If you are unsure which mouthrinse you need to be using, it’s a good idea to check with your dental professional for expert advice—just be sure to add it to your dental routine for excellent and complete oral health.

~Dr. Marea White