We’ve all been at the grocery store or CVS, staring at the toothpaste until we see the one we like.  After grabbing it, we notice a large display to either side selling what appears to be hundreds of gallons of mouthwash. Some of us grab it on instinct and use it regularly, and others pass it by without a second thought. Think about it though, why is this clearly popular product something that so many are willing to walk by? Are the benefits as effective as the colorful labels would lead you to believe? The answer like all things, might not be exactly what you expect!

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The Science of Mouthwash

There are many types of mouthwashes out there that have been formulated to handle different tasks.

Cosmetic rinses are a mix of non-corrosives designed to give a pleasing smell. These are the ones that make your breath smell minty fresh.

Therapeutic mouthwashes are classified as anti-cariogenic (preventing decay) or anti-bacterial. The over the counter version of these mouthwashes are largely fluoride rinses that contain .05% sodium fluoride.  These are likely to contain a variety of active ingredients including zinc, triclosan, sanguinaria extract, or essential oils such as menthol. Each one of these ingredients is added because it reduces the bacteria that is found in and makes up plaque to some degree.

Prescription mouthwashes most widely use chlorhexidine, an ingredient that has been the most widely used and studied for mouthwashes. It works by blocking the bacteria from sticking to a person’s teeth, therefore stopping the formation of plaque.

How Well Does it Work?

As it turns out, Therapeutic and Prescription mouthwashes work well. Very well, in fact so much so that using them in combination with good oral hygiene (yes you still have to brush and floss) is shown to significantly reduce the likelihood of cavities forming and decay. Surprised? Well, a lot of non-users seem to be when they hear that mouthwash is actually pretty darn effective. Our recommendation? Ask your dentist and use what they recommend.

As for the cosmetic mouthwash, it’s going to give you a nice aftertaste and some minty fresh breath, but that’s about it. That’s not a bad thing if you have good oral hygiene besides, but just be aware that outside of a good smell, you’re not really gaining too much

Wrap Up

Hopefully, this will help inform your purchasing and oral hygiene decisions. If not, thanks for reading anyway! If you need some more mouthwash tips or are looking for a great local Hartford dentist, make sure you fill out a contact form on the right or give us a call today!