Want to strengthen enamel? Treat gingivitis? Remove tooth stains? There’s a mouthwash for that! While mouth rinse has been around in some form for thousands of years, the number of options available for purchase has increased from 15 to over 100 in the last 50 years alone. Standing in front of rows of mouthwash at the store can feel overwhelming, but if you know what to look for you’ll be on your way to a healthier mouth in no time.
What to ask yourself when choosing a mouthwash:
Is my need cosmetic, therapeutic or both?
Per the American Dental Association, mouthwash fits into two broad categories: cosmetic and therapeutic.
Cosmetic mouthwash aims to temporarily remedy cosmetic concerns like bad breath or stained teeth, but doesn’t provide benefits to your oral health in the long term.
Therapeutic mouthwash, on the other hand, contains active ingredients intended to treat and prevent oral health conditions, like gingivitis, over time.
There are also many combination rinses that boast both cosmetic and therapeutic effects.
Should I get alcoholic or nonalcoholic mouthwash?
While alcohol has strong antiseptic properties to stop bacterial growth and prevent infection, nonalcoholic mouthwashes can yield similar if not identical results. Some people enjoy the “burn” of an alcoholic mouthwash, while it can be painful or cause side effects (like dry mouth) for others. Your choice should be based on personal preference and dentist recommendation.
Which active ingredients should I look for?
Different mouwashes use different ingredients to address a variety of oral hygiene needs, but often list ingredients most of us have never heard of. Understand the back of the bottle using the chart below: