Types of Mouthwash | Different uses and therapeutic purposes

Types of Mouthwash

Did you know that there isn’t just one type of mouthwash? In fact, some mouthwashes have a specialized purpose and require a prescription for purchase. In other words, not all mouth rinses were created equal, and this blog is meant to explain the key differences. To teach his patients about the types of mouthwash, Dr. James Fondriest provides this informative article. 

If you are interested in learning more about important oral care habits, we welcome you to join the dental family of Lake Forest Dental Arts. Our practice mostly serves the Chicago metropolitan area including the North Shore and Northwest suburbs, but we often get patients from all over the United States.” 

Mouthwash Comes In a Number of Varieties

There are many causes of bad breath, and there are mouthwashes that may be more suited to each issue. There are basically two types of mouthwash: therapeutic and cosmetic. Therapeutic mouthwashes use active ingredients like eucalyptol, menthol, methyl salicylate, and thymol to treat gingivitis and reduce plaque. Cosmetic mouthwashes primarily serve to freshen breath, although they can also reduce the presence of bacteria for short periods of time. Within these two large families of mouthwash types, patients can choose rinses that have unique oral health qualities. 

  • Fluoride Mouthwash. If you’re prone to developing cavities despite your diligent teeth cleaning habits, your dentist may recommend switching to a fluoridated type of mouthwash. These dental rinses contain sodium fluoride, which helps fortify the enamel. When used correctly, the extra fluoride can strengthen soft spots in the enamel to ward off tooth decay.
  • Cosmetic. These mouthwashes have received their name for a reason: it’s mainly for cosmetic purposes. This means that the mouthwash doesn’t offer many protections against gum disease and tooth decay. Cosmetic mouthwashes have been mainly manufactured to reduce bad breath or halitosis. If they contain hydrogen peroxide, they will offer some bleaching effect.
  • Essential Oils. Oil pulling may have some antibacterial properties. The American Dental Association (ADA) does not support oil pulling as an oral health therapy due to the lack of reliable scientific evidence.
  • Natural. For patients who prefer to use natural products, a natural mouthwash might work the best. Natural mouthwashes function just like regular mouthwash, yet the ingredients list doesn’t contain artificial additives. Furthermore, natural mouthwashes don’t have alcohol or fluoride. This group may include oil pulling or swishing.
  • Antiseptic. Should your dentist find that you have an oral infection, he may prescribe an antiseptic mouthwash. These mouthwashes contain a chemical called chlorhexidine gluconate or cetylpyridinium chloride, which specifically work to prevent oral bacteria from growing. They both can kill bacteria. Antiseptic mouthwashes also work wonders for patients who suffer from chronic halitosis.
  • Complete care. Mouthwashes that aid in total care cover a number of areas. Complete care mouthwashes have antibacterial ingredients to reduce plaque and tartar build-up, bacterial growth, and improves your breath. The newer types of complete care mouthwashes also have whitening agents to help brighten your smile.

American Dental Association Guidelines for Mouthwash

The American Dental Association offers specific guidelines on how and when mouthwash should be used. The ADA recommends following the following guidelines and tips.

  • Children under the age of 6 should not use mouthwash unless directed to by a dentist
  • Consumers should only purchase mouthwashes that have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance, which means they have provided scientific data about the effectiveness of their product
  • While alcohol content is a known risk factor for oral cancer, there is no currently known association between alcohol and oral cancer. Consider an alcohol free mouthwash.
  • Using mouthwash does not substitute for brushing or flossing
  • Doubling the dose of a prescription mouthwash will not make up for a missed scheduled dose

What Dental Problems Can the Different Types of Mouthwash Treat?

The ADA noted that mouthwash can be used to treat the following conditions.

  • Dry socket: Dry socket is a common condition that can arise following a tooth extraction. The exact cause remains unknown, but it is theorized that bacterial decomposition causes the clotted blood that remains following an extraction to become dislodged. Mouthwashes that contain chlorhexidine can lower the risk of developing dry socket.
  • Halitosis: Bad breath is unpleasant and it can be a sign of poor oral health. Cosmetic mouthwash can cover the symptoms of bad breath while a quality therapeutic rinse can address the underlying causes of halitosis.
  • Plaque: Plaque is a naturally arising biofilm that continually develops on the surface of teeth. Using a quality therapeutic rinse can help control plaque buildup, which can reduce your risk for gum disease and decay.  
  • Gingivitis: Brands like Listerine have made a point of advertising their gingivitis-fighting qualities. Regular use of a therapeutic mouthwash can address two causes of gum disease: bacterial and plaque. 
  • Topical pain relief: Some mouthwash brands offer temporary relief from discomfort through the use of ingredients like lidocaine, benzocaine, butamin, tetracaine hydrochloride, dyclonine hydrochloride, and phenol.

Mouthwashes for All Stages of Life

There are three main stages of life that require changes in the type of mouthwash you use. Children over the age of 6 can benefit from kids mouthwash. These products help children develop good oral hygiene habits. They are often pleasantly flavored and free from high percentages of alcohol. Adults can benefit from cosmetic or therapeutic mouthwashes. 

We recommend that patients consult with Dr. Fondriest to determine which types of oral rinses will best address their cosmetic and oral health needs. Adults over 60 face unique oral health needs. A quality therapeutic mouthwash can aid in preventing dry mouth, gum disease, and other dental problems that disproportionately affect older adults. 

No matter which stage of life you are at, you should see mouthwash as an important oral health tool that can supplement brushing and flossing. At no point should mouthwash be seen as a substitute for twice-a-day brushing and daily flossing. 

Dental Health Advice on Types of Mouthwash

Learn more about the common causes for foul mouth odors. If you would like more information about oral health care products including the various types of mouthwash, talk to Dr. Fondriest. He can recommend top-rated teeth cleaning products that have been proven to work. To schedule an appointment with your dentist, call us at (847) 234-0517. Also, visit our website for services, testimonials, and before-and-after gallery. Dr. Fondriest and his staff welcome patients from the Chicago Metro area.