How can you know which is the best mouthwash for your oral health? Whether you shop at a big-box retailer or your local drugstore, you’ll find an ocean of mouthrinse brands and varieties. Will some types cause more harm than good?
Great questions, and the answers are in this article.
First, however, note that adults should brush their teeth in the morning and evening with a fluoridated toothpaste and floss once daily. These are absolutely the best things you can do for your oral health.
However, the right mouthwash, used in moderation, offers benefits that go beyond brushing and flossing.
And second, if you’re looking for a cosmetic and family dentist in Alpharetta, GA, call us today at 678-736-8633 or visit our website to schedule your checkup, cleaning or consultation.
Now, let’s dive into that ocean of mouthwash options and determine the best mouthwash for you!
Two Types of Mouthwash
There are two primary types:
Cosmetic mouthwash temporarily masks bad breath and tastes fresh. It does nothing more than what breath mints do.
Therapeutic mouthwash contains active ingredients that treat specific conditions, like bad breath, tooth decay, or dental stains. (Though teeth whitening is a cosmetic dental procedure, whitening mouthwash is considered therapeutic, not cosmetic.)
The subject of this article is therapeutic mouthwashes. Under therapeutic are anti-plaque, antiseptic, and preventive sub-categories. Most mouthwashes will fall into one of these categories.
Using the right therapeutic mouthwash can significantly and strategically improve your oral health, while also remedying bad breath. Here are 4 things that will help you make informed decisions in the oral care aisle.
Point One: Don’t Buy Mouthwash Until You Get a Checkup
You need one that caters to your specific oral health issues. At your dental checkup, our dentists will inform you of concerns unique to your mouth’s oral microbiome and structures. Keep this information in mind when shopping for mouthwash.
The best mouthwash for you will address your oral health issues, which may include:
Gingivitis/Gum Disease/Bleeding or Sore Gums
Proclivity for Cavities
Excessive Plaque Buildup
A Child Who Needs Mouthwash
A Combination of Two or More of These
After determining why you need a mouthrinse, you can proceed to learning about the minerals and active ingredients best suited for treating your issues.
Point Two: The Best Mouthwash for You Isn’t Best for Everyone
One reason stores stock many varieties is because one mouthwash does not suit all mouths.
Our bodies need minerals to balance and bolster health. For instance, calcium builds strong bones. Zinc fosters good eye health, and Vitamin E improves skin health.
Along these same lines, certain minerals help oral health.
Here are the most common minerals found in mouthwashes, along with what each mineral achieves.
Fluoride is an interesting mineral. It occurs naturally in nature, but not in the human body. And while fluoride itself does little for teeth, it indirectly affects oral health in a big way. Fluoride attracts phosphorus and calcium, two elements that strengthen and rebuild tooth enamel. In addition, the antimicrobial properties of fluoride kill bacteria that cause gingivitis, gum disease, and bad breath.
Chlorhexidine mouthwash is often used before and after oral surgery because of its antiseptic properties. Chlorhexidine mouthwash is most effective five minutes after teeth brushing, rather than immediately following brushing.
Sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride, and calcium phosphate strengthen tooth enamel and dentin, thus deterring cavities and tooth sensitivity.
People with tooth sensitivity may also look for one that contains potassium nitrate and potassium citrate. These minerals desensitize tooth enamel and dentin. Anesthetics in mouthrinse include but aren’t limited to lidocaine, benzocaine/butamin/tetracaine hydrochloride, dyclonine hydrochloride, and phenol.
If you find a mouthwash with zinc salts, ionone, ketone, and/or terpene, it will reduce bacteria that produce the volatile sulfur compounds (VFCs) responsible for bad breath. Cetylpyridinium chloride also helps improve breath odor.
For teeth whitening, find a mouthwash with carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These minerals are also found in whitening toothpastes, whitening strips, whitening paints, and whitening gels.
Point Three: Some Mouthwash Ingredients May Harm Your Oral Health
The ADA recommends avoiding mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride plus zinc lactate because these minerals contribute to tooth enamel stains. Cetylpyridinium chloride and chlorhexidine may also stain teeth, as well as the tongue and even dental restorations.
People who suffer from dry mouth (xerostomia) and children should not use mouthwash with alcohol.
Children under six years old shouldn’t use mouthwash at all. Swallowing toothpaste or mouthrinse with fluoride during childhood can result in fluorosis on permanent teeth. Fluorosis is a permanent, lateral, white staining that doesn’t respond to chemical teeth whitening.
Point Four: The ADA Seal of Acceptance
When you select one with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance, you can have peace of mind that the claims made on the label have been tested and proven.
The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs, an independent group of scientists and scientific experts, objectively evaluates each product submitted for the ADA Seal of Acceptance. Mouthwash manufacturers must provide proof and data substantiating all claims made on product labels.
Then, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs verifies that the information is accurate and FDA (Federal Drug Administration) regulations have been met before approving a product for the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Now You’re Ready to Shop!
The right mouthwash for you should contain active ingredients that will address your unique oral health concerns, without causing any adverse effects. You can feel confident in choosing a mouthwash with the ADA Seal of Acceptance, because it indicates that what you read on a product label is in fact true.
In addition to using the right mouth rinse, adults should invest in a new toothbrush every three to six months and use a fluoridated toothpaste.
Brush teeth and rinse with your preferred mouthwash twice a day, and thoroughly floss your teeth once a day.
Be sure to attend dental visits for checkups and cleanings every six months (or more often if so advised by our dentists).