Does mouthwash really work?

26 April · 2 minutes

We breakdown if mouthwash really does make a difference or not to your oral hygiene.

On average, mouthwash is only in your mouth for around 30 seconds before you spit it down the drain. Even though it is a popular oral hygiene product, it has had its fair share of controversy - with many believing it has no benefits whatsoever on oral hygiene.

While not a replacement for daily brushing and flossing, using mouthwash may be a helpful addition to your daily oral hygiene routine. Like interdental cleaners (cleaning between the teeth), mouthwash offers the benefit of reaching areas not easily accessed by a toothbrush.

What is mouthwash?

Mouthwash is a liquid product used to rinse your teeth, gums, and mouth. The main function of most mouthwashes is to freshen breath. That said, some types of mouthwash, such as a fluoride rinse, can help protect your teeth against acids produced by plaque bacteria if you use them after you have thoroughly brushed and flossed your teeth.

Types of mouthwash

Broadly speaking, there are two types of mouthwash: cosmetic and therapeutic.

Cosmetic mouthwash may temporarily control bad breath and leave behind a pleasant taste but has no chemical or biological application beyond a temporary benefit. On the other hand, therapeutic mouthwash has active ingredients to help control or reduce conditions like bad breath, gingivitis, plaque, and tooth decay.

The active ingredients that may be found in therapeutic mouthwash include:

  • Cetylpyridinium chloride: which reduces bad breath
  • Chlorhexidine: which helps control plaque and gingivitis
  • Essential oils: also helps control plaque and gingivitis
  • Fluoride: proven agent in helping prevent decay
  • Peroxide: used as a whitening agent

Depending on the formulation, therapeutic mouthwash can be found both over-the-counter and by prescription - for example, mouthwashes containing essential oils are available in stores, while those with chlorhexidine are available by prescription only.

What is the best mouthwash?

Not all mouthwashes are the same. While it can be as simple as choosing a flavor, there is more than meets the eye while selecting a mouthwash.

Consider the following before making your purchase:

Staying fresh. If fresh breath is what you’re looking for, pick a mouthwash you like the smell of. Suffering from dry mouth? Go alcohol-free! Alcohol is a drying agent, and if your mouth is dry, you can’t produce saliva. Yes, to fluoride. Many types of mouthwashes have extra fluoride to help fight tooth decay. Remember, with all mouthwashes, you must not swallow them, as consuming too much fluoride mouth rinse can be toxic. Noticing gum disease? If you have issues with gum disease, then chlorhexidine is worth looking into. But always seek professional assessment before proceeding with any over-the-counter remedies.

The takeaway: the key to getting the most out of your mouthwash is to make it a habit and regular part of your oral health routine.

So, does mouthwash really work?

Yes. As long as you are using the right type for the symptoms you are looking to solve. If you are looking to reduce dental issues such as plaque and gingivitis - we suggest to seek out a therapeutic mouthwash that actively protects your teeth. On the other hand, if you're looking to freshen breath, try a cosmetic mouthwash to counter that not-so-fresh taste and smell.

We believe mouthwash shouldn’t be used as the only weapon in your arsenal to fight for good oral health; it should be integrated into your daily dental routine - brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups.

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