Choosing a mouthwash should be as easy as using a mouthwash. With all the options on the market, however, it can be more confusing than it should be to decide which mouthwash to use.
While every commercial brand makes its own claims, there are a few basic things to understand about mouthwash that can help you make a smart choice. There are three types of mouthwash―those designed to freshen breath, those designed to fight plaque and gum disease, and those designed to fight cavities.
Breath fresheners. If you’re seeking a mouthwash that makes your mouth feel fresh, most of the commercially available choices will suffice. Keep in mind that many contain alcohol and swallowing large quantities can be harmful. If the alcohol content concerns you, consider one of the organic or natural brands―most of them don’t contain alcohol.
Germ killers. For a mouthwash to help minimize gum disease, it needs to kill the germs that cause the condition. For those already battling gum disease, a prescription mouthwash containing the antibiotic chlorhexidine may be the best bet. Few over-the-counter options have the blend of essential oils recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA) to help fight periodontal germs.
Cavity fighters. Fluoride is the important ingredient in cavity-preventing mouthwash. Fluoride is the cross-fit of the dental world, strengthening tooth enamel and protecting teeth from cavity-causing acid. Look for a mouthwash with the ADA Seal of Acceptance to ensure that it actually contains the correct amount of fluoride to be effective.
You may find certain mouthwashes irritate your mouth if you have sensitive gums. If so, try an alcohol-free or natural mouthwash, especially one that contains soothing herbal ingredients like chamomile and aloe.
Depending on your particular dental concerns, you may be better off with a specific type of mouthwash or a prescription version. Our job is to know your mouth well. Ask us to recommend a mouthwash at your next appointment.