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types of mouthwash

Mouthwash 101: Types of Mouthwash

If you’ve ever seen a mouthwash commercial, you know that mouthwashes are commonly used to freshen breath, but that’s not all mouthwash can do! As a part of a solid brushing and flossing routine, mouthwash can be very beneficial. However, stroll down the oral care aisle, and you’ll find yourself face to face with an aisle full of mouthwash. Why are there so many types of mouthwash? Which one do you need? This post will give you the scoop on mouthwash.

What is Mouthwash?

Mouthwash is a liquid that is swished in the mouth for a certain length of time, ranging from 30 seconds to one minute, depending on the product. The FDA groups mouthwashes into three types of categories:

  • Therapeutic: Therapeutic mouthwashes contain specific ingredients that assist in fighting tooth or mouth diseases. An example of a therapeutic mouthwash is an anti-gingivitis rinse.
  • Cosmetic: A primary goal of a cosmetic mouthwash is to remove odor-causing bacteria to freshen the breath. These are easily found over-the-counter, and they cannot treat tooth or mouth diseases.
  • Combination: A combination mouthwash serves to treat mouth conditions as well as address cosmetic concerns.

Types of Mouthwash

Mouthwash, whether it falls under the cosmetic or therapeutic category, is designed for a specific purpose. There are many types of mouthwashes including:

  • Whitening: Used in conjunction with a whitening toothpaste or perhaps even after a whitening treatment, a whitening mouthwash can maintain your pearly whites.
  • Medicated mouthwashes: Certain rinses can be prescribed to you to treat certain oral conditions such as dry mouth or bleeding gums.
  • Plaque control: These mouthwashes target plaque and work to eliminate it and stall the growth of tartar.
  • Child-friendly: These rinses typically do not have alcohol listed as an ingredient.
  • Homemade: A warm saltwater rinse is commonly used to after a tooth extraction or to help clean the mouth after an infection
  • Fluoride: Fluoride rinses can help prevent tooth decay, but it is very important that young children (or individuals who may swallow the rinse) do not use fluoride rinses as too much fluoride may be harmful.
  • Antiseptic: Many dentists suggest the use of an antiseptic rinse before and/or after surgery since these rinses contain chlorhexidine gluconate, which limits the growth of bacteria.

How do I know which mouthwash is right for me?

Although mouthwashes can be a very important part of your treatment plan, mouthwash alone should never replace brushing or flossing. If you opt for an over-the-counter mouthwash, always look for an ADA seal, which means that the American Dental Association considers that mouthwash to be safe. However, sometimes choosing an OTC mouthwash isn’t enough to address your specific dental needs. A dentist will be able to help you decide which type of mouthwash is right for you, and s/he can prescribe a medicated rinse if necessary.

If you have questions about which therapeutic mouthwash is right for your needs, your dentist can suggest an appropriate one. To make an appointment, contact us today.

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