Everyone loves having fresh breath, and there are many ways to get it. One way is by using a mouthwash. Most mouthwashes contain an artificial flavor that will leave your mouth feeling nice and fresh, but is that all you are looking for from a mouthwash? Some mouthwashes will actually kill the bacteria that cause bad breath, while others will strengthen your teeth to protect them against cavities. Finding the mouthwash that will leave you with fresh breath and a healthy mouth can be a daunting task. Here are some tips to help you along the way:
Types of mouthwash
There are many different types of mouthwashes on the market and they aren’t all the same. The main brands of mouthwashes fall into two categories: Plaque/Gingivitis Control or Fluoride.
- Plaque/Gingivitis control mouthwashes contain antibiotic or antimicrobial ingredients that fight the bacteria that cause bad breath, plaque, and gingivitis. Some examples of over the counter mouthwashes are Tooth and Gum Tonic and Listerine. A prescription strength mouthwash (a chlorhexidine gluconate rinse) may be prescribed to help with irritated gums or extreme cases of gingivitis.
- Fluoride mouthwashes can be over the counter (such as A.C.T.) or prescription (such as Prevident) and are used to help prevent tooth decay. These mouthwashes provide added fluoride for patients who are at a high risk for cavities.
There are a couple of mouthwashes that fall outside of these categories, including dry mouth mouthwashes and plaque disclosing mouthwashes. These individualized mouthwashes can be found over the counter and are best used for specific conditions. In most cases, you do not need to use these unless recommended by your dentist.
When to use
Plaque/Gingivitis controlling mouthwashes can be used once a day or as directed by your dentist. We usually recommend using these mouthwashes in the morning to control the bacteria that has grown during the night. Some of these mouthwashes can contain alcohol which may dry out your mouth. If you find that your mouth is getting dried out, try switching to an alcohol free mouthwash such as Dental Herb Company’s Tooth and Gum Tonic.
Mouthwashes are a great addition to your oral hygiene routine. However, using mouthwash alone cannot replace brushing and flossing your teeth. Mouthwashes only inhibit the growth of plaque causing bacteria; they do not completely prevent the bacteria from forming plaque or causing bad breath. If you find that you are using a mouthwash multiple times a day as a breath freshener, it is a good idea to visit your dentist to see if there is something else causing your bad breath.
For patients who are at high risk of cavities, a fluoride mouthwash used once daily in conjunction with normal brushing and flossing can help decrease the risk of cavities. It is best to use a fluoride mouthwash at night time as you shouldn’t eat or drink after rinsing for 30 minutes.
Mouthwash can be a quick solution to bad breath, and so much more. At our Evanston dental office, we recommend Dental Herb Company’s Tooth and Gum tonic for fresh breath and a clean mouth. For non-prescription at home fluoride treatments we recommend A.C.T. fluoride rinse. Talk to your dentist to find out what mouthwash would be the best addition to your oral hygiene routine.