An ADA-accepted mouth rinse can be an excellent addition to your oral hygiene routine. By reaching places your toothbrush can’t, mouth rinses can help fight cavities, reduce staining and help with other oral health conditions. But not all mouthwash is created equal. And they’re not a substitute for brushing and flossing. Mouth rinses have become way more sophisticated than back in the days when we all wanted minty fresh breath. There are more choices than ever, and different active ingredients provide different benefits. Your dentist may even prescribe a mouth rinse for certain oral health conditions.
What Does Mouth Rinse Do?
According to the ADA, there are two main types of mouth rinse: cosmetic and therapeutic. Cosmetic rinses are the kind many of us knew growing up. They temporarily reduce bad breath but don’t contain ingredients to promote oral hygiene. Therapeutic mouth rinses can help reduce plaque and fight conditions like gingivitis, bad breath, and tooth decay. Common active ingredients include:
- Fluoride helps prevent cavities
- Essential oils like eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme, and wintergreen have antimicrobial properties and help freshen breath.
- Peroxide whitens teeth and promotes gum health.
- Cetylpyridinium chloride helps reduce bad breath.
- Chlorhexidine fights gingivitis and dry socket.
What Conditions Can Therapeutic Mouth Rinse Treat?
Therapeutic mouth rinses are available over the counter and by prescription from your dentist. Your dentist may recommend a therapeutic mouth rinse to prevent cavities and gingivitis or for the following conditions:
- Dry socket: mouth rinse containing chlorhexidine, a compound that kills bacteria in your mouth, is available by prescription. It can help with dry socket, a clotting condition that sometimes occurs when molars are extracted. Chlorhexidine can also fight gingivitis.
- Chronic bad breath: antimicrobial ingredients including chlorhexidine, chlorine dioxide, and cetylpyridinium chloride kill the bacteria that cause bad breath.
- Dry mouth occurs when your body doesn’t produce enough saliva. According to the ADA, special mouth rinses containing enzymes, cellulose derivatives or animal mucins can mimic the composition and feel of saliva and can provide relief from dry mouth symptoms.
- Whitening: some mouth rinses help whiten teeth and reduce stains with ingredients like carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide.
Should My Kids Use A Mouth Rinse?
There are several ADA accepted mouth rinses for children. These products contain fluoride to help fight cavities. However, the ADA does not recommend mouth rinse for children under 6 unless recommended by your dentist since younger children may accidentally swallow large amounts of liquid. Talk with your family dentist about whether a mouth rinse is appropriate for your child. Be sure to emphasize that mouth rinse doesn’t replace brushing and flossing and that tasty flavors shouldn’t lead to overuse.
How Often Should I Use A Therapeutic Mouth Rinse?
Usually, once a day works well for mouth rinse use. Bump it up to twice a day if your family dentist recommends it. It’s often recommended that you rinse with your mouthwash and not drink or eat anything for 30 minutes to allow the active ingredients to do their thing.
Talk With Your Family Dentist When Choosing a Mouth Rinse
At Greenhill Family Dental Care, we know that therapeutic mouth rinse can be a helpful tool. However, we consistently underscore that it doesn’t replace brushing and flossing. If you think using a daily mouth rinse would be beneficial, talk with our team. We can help you navigate the wide selection of mouth rinses on drugstore shelves and decide which active ingredients will benefit you most. We may also recommend an over-the-counter or prescription mouth rinse for specific conditions. Mouth rinses have come a long way, but they’re not magic elixirs. However, they can play a role in a positive oral healthcare approach, along with brushing, flossing, and regular checkups with your family dentist.