Mouthwashes: Which One Is Best for You?

Do you frequently glance at the mouthwashes in the oral care aisle and wonder which is best for you or if you even need a mouth wash at all? While not everyone needs to use a mouthwash, just over an estimated 60 percent of Americans now use at least one mouth wash daily due to the wide array of oral health benefits these oral rinses now offer.

Read on to learn all about the most popular types of mouthwashes on the market today so you can decide which one (or more) you should add to your oral care routine.

Cosmetic Mouthwashes

The American Dental Association (ADA) recognizes two main types of mouthwashes: therapeutic and cosmetic washes. Cosmetic mouthwashes simply freshen breath and provide no other benefit. Therapeutic mouthwashes contain active medicinal ingredients that can improve your oral health in some way.

While there is nothing wrong with using a cosmetic mouthwash to freshen your breath from time to time, be sure to never use any mouthwash as a substitute for brushing and flossing your teeth. Cosmetic mouth rinses do not remove the plaque from your teeth that brushing and flossing do.

Antibacterial Mouthwashes

Antibacterial mouthwashes are very beneficial for people who suffer from gingivitis, which is the earliest stage of gum disease, and those who develop frequent cavities even when brushing and flossing on a regular basis. There are two main types of over-the-counter antibacterial mouthwashes on the market today: those with cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) as the active ingredient and those with bacteria-killing essential oils.

Studies show that both types of mouthwashes are equally effective at controlling gingivitis and combating the accumulation of plaque on teeth.

However, many mouth rinses containing essential oils are alcohol-based, while those that contain CPC as the active ingredient are often water-based. Alcohol-based mouthwashes can exasperate dry mouth, so choose a water-based mouthwash with CPC as the active ingredient if you suffer from dry mouth.

Fluoride Rinses

If you suffer from frequent cavities, then you may want to begin using a fluoride mouth rinse. Even if you already use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, a rinse can help strengthen your tooth enamel even further to combat dental decay. This rinse is great for children and adults alike.

Mouth Rinses for Tooth Sensitivity

If you suffer from tooth sensitivity, then you may be happy to hear that there are mouth rinses that can help ease your oral pain. While mouthwashes made to help reduce tooth sensitivity all vary slightly, most contain an ingredient that desensitizes the nerves inside of your teeth and additional ingredients that form a coating over the tubules of your teeth.

The tubules of a tooth are microscopic tunnels that span from the tooth enamel to the sensitive pulp of the tooth. When these tubules are coated, they are protected from sensitivity-inducing triggers, such as hot and cold liquids.

Whitening Mouthwashes

Even if you suffer from no oral health problems a mouthwash will help treat, you may enjoy using a whitening mouthwash. Whitening mouthwashes contain similar ingredients to other teeth-whitening products, such as carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, but contain much lower concentrations of these ingredients.

While these rinses will not fully whiten your teeth after one use, everyday use can be a good substitute for occasional use of other messy or more time-consuming whitening treatments.

Prescription Mouthwashes

If you have a more advanced form of gum disease or other severe dental health problem caused by oral bacteria, then you can ask your dentist about advanced bacteria-killing mouthwashes available by prescription only.

If you are confused by the wide array of mouthwashes available at the grocery or drug store, then use this guide to help you choose the right mouthwash for you. Reach out to the staff at Milner Dentistry if you suspect you have a need for a prescription mouthwash or just need to schedule your next dental exam. 


We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form.


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Springfield, IL dentist Dr. Milner specializes in family and cosmetic dentistry. Dr. Milner is dedicated to improving the health and beauty of his patients' smiles. Call our Springfield, IL dentist office to get started today!

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