Table of Contents
- What To Look For In Mouthwash
- Alcohol vs. Alcohol Free Mouthwash
- Best Mouthwash Suggestions
- Best Mouthwash For Bad Breath: TheraBreath Oral Rinse
- Best Mouthwash For Dry Mouth: Biotene Oral Rinse for Dry Mouth
- Best Mouthwash For Gingivits and Gums: Natural Dentist Anti-Gingivitis Rinse
- Best Mouthwash For Cavities and Tooth Decay: ACT Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash
- Benefits of Mouthwash
- How To Use Mouthwash
- Mouthwash Tips
- Best Mouthwash Wrap Up
The trinity of oral care: brushing, flossing and rinsing. With hundreds and thousands of products on the market though, those three simple things can end up getting pretty complex. Mouthwash in particular can be a confusing bundle of thorns to tread through. There are so many different mouthwashes, all of which have a different purpose and say they’re the best at something else. It can be pretty confusing. No more though. We’ve put together this full, in-depth guide on how to find the best mouthwash for you. First we’ll take a look at some background info and then we’ll jump into our product suggestion.
Already a mouthwash expert? No problem, go ahead and jump right to our products!
With no further ado, let’s get to it!
What To Look For In Mouthwash
The best advice we can give about searching for mouthwash is to have it focus on your weakest area. There’s a lot of noise out there about what your mouthwash should do. The simple answer is to have it do whatever you need it to. Is your dentist not feeling to great about your gum health? Grab a mouthwash that focuses on improve your gums and preventing gingivitis. Not super excited about the color of your teeth? Grab a whitening mouthwash.
One helpful thing to look out for when you’re selecting your oral rinse is to see if the product has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. This isn’t necessary for the mouthwash to be effective, but it does mean that it’s recommended by the nation’s largest group of dental professionals. That goes a long way.
The main idea is to pick whatever works best for you. We’ve got product categories for all of the main areas, so browse to the category that fits your needs the best and check it out!
Alcohol vs. Alcohol Free Mouthwash
To further complicate your search for the best mouthwash, there’s the big line in the sand separating alcohol based mouthwash and alcohol free mouthwash. What’s the difference? Well, as with anything, the lines are a bit grey. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
First and foremost it should be noted that alcohol based mouthwash doesn’t necessarily do a better job at killing bacteria in your mouth. Just because it burns like Hades himself doesn’t mean it’s actually killing any more than alcohol free options.
Furthermore, the major issue a lot of people come across with alcohol based mouthwash is that it tends to dry out oral tissue after repeated use. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it dehydrates you. This effect is amplified when alcohol is applied topically, which is exactly what happens when you use a mouthwash that includes it. Not only can this lead to dry mouth (xerostemia) but it can also lead to increased tooth decay, poor breath and poor oral health.
Another problem with alcohol based mouthwash is that it can be pretty harsh on weaker oral tissue. If you’ve ever used a mouthwash with alcohol after not using one for a while, you know exactly what this feels like. It can slightly damage taste buds and make tasting food a bit more difficult for a few days afterwards.
Now, before you start getting on the hate-alcohol train, it does have some uses. The biggest of these is price. While there are risks that come with using an alcoholic mouthwash, it’s likely that many patients will never see a major issue. That combined with the fact that alcohol is a cheap preserving agent makes choosing an alcohol based oral rinse not only a healthy option, but a financially sound one as well.
If, however, you have issue with dry mouth, bad breath or tooth decay, it might be worthwhile to check out alcohol free options and see if they improve your overall oral health.
If you’re interested in picking up an alcohol free option, check out our full guide on alcohol free mouthwashes here.
Best Mouthwash Suggestions
Below we’ve got product suggestions for four different categories: bad breath, dry mouth, gum health/gingivitis and cavities/tooth decay. These are the products that we feel best solve these oral health problems.
Best Mouthwash For Bad Breath: TheraBreath Oral Rinse
If you’re looking for relief from bad breath, look no further than TheraBreath Oral Rinse. We’ve included this mouthwash in several of our guides simply because it works so well.
First off, we’ll take a look at the ingredients. Therabreath contains no alcohol, artificial flavors, colors or detergents, is certified vegan, gluten free and completely kosher. If you’re looking to stay away from alcohol based products, you’ll be good to go with Therabreath.
The keystone to Therabreath’s formula is the compound OXYD-8. This compound specifically attacks bacteria that causes bad breath and will help to prevent sour, bitter and metallic tastes in your mouth.
The main idea here is that most cases of bad breath are caused by anerobic (meaning they can live without oxygen) bacteria that live underneath the surface of oral tissue. These bacteria produce various compounds (hydrogen sulfide and methyl mercaptan specifically) that are the major producers of foul, odorus breath. By specifically targeting these bacteria you can solve the majority of your halitosis problems in one fell swoop.
Simply put, it’s hard to find a better solution for bad breath than Therabreath. If you’ve got issues with bad breath and halitosis, do yourself a favor and check this product out.
Best Mouthwash For Dry Mouth: Biotene Oral Rinse for Dry Mouth
Biotene’s Dry Mouth Oral Rinse is pretty much the industry go-to for anyone suffering from xerostemia (the official term for dry mouth). The number one dentist recommended solution for dry mouth, it’s known to be extremely effective at moisturizing the oral tissue and increasing saliva production.
Boitene works in two ways. First, it’s full of the same enzymes you’ll find in your saliva. This means that it’s simply adding more of what your mouth needs to keep hydrated. The second way it works is to coat the entirety of your mouth in a thin film of lubricant. This helps to moisturize the oral mucosa (a thin film of mucous membrane that lives on the inside of your mouth) and prevent dry mouth symptoms.
There’s been a recent formula change that some people aren’t too excited about. In our opinion, this product still works well for what it’s intended to do – prevent dry mouth symptoms. If you’ve got issues with xerostemia, you’ll want to pick this mouthwash up.
Best Mouthwash For Gingivits and Gums: Natural Dentist Anti-Gingivitis Rinse
Based around herbal and botanical ingredients, the Natural Dentist Anti-Gingivitis Oral Rinse is about as good as it gets for over-the-counter gum health and gingivitis prevention. Created originally by a dentist who was unsatisfied with the quality of gum-focused mouthwashes on the market, Natural Dentist mouthwash has become well known throughout the industry for treating bleeding gums and build up strong, healthy periodontal tissue.
This oral rinse has specifically avoided some of the more controversial, synthetic ingredients such as alcohol, artificial colors, artificial flavors and preservatives. It does include a variety of herbal and naturally based ingredients such as Aloe Vera and a variety of essential oils.
The effectiveness of this oral rinse on periodontal issue is backed up by a number of third-party clinical studies. There’s little doubt that the Natural Dentist Anti-Gingivitis Oral Rinse will promote healthy gums and help to ward off gingivitis and gum disease.
Best Mouthwash For Cavities and Tooth Decay: ACT Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash
Blessed with the ADA Seal of Acceptance, ACT Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash reigns champion as the best mouthwash for fighting cavities and tooth decay.
The focus with ACT is its inclusion of fluoride. Many mouthwashes, for whatever reason, seem to disinclude fluoride as an active ingredient. The use of fluoride in ACT’s Anticavity Mouthwash helps to strengthen enamel and protect teeth against tooth decay and cavities.
Additionally, it includes a compound called calcium disodium. This is generally used before major surgeries such as root canals to lubricate the area and remove any debris (such as bacteria or plaque build-ups). That means that ACT Anticavity Mouthwash will not only help to protect your teeth against plaque and bacteria, but it’ll also do a better job at removing what’s there.
If you’re concerned about tooth decay and cavities, the best mouthwash for you will be ACT Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash.
Benefits of Mouthwash
Mouthwash tends to get a bad rap sometimes. It’s not all bad though. Below we’ve pulled together the main benefits of mouthwash and how it can help your oral health.
Even if you’re a brushing and flossing pro, it’s hard to get to all the areas of your mouth. Germs as you know are very tiny. They can get anywhere and everywhere. Brushing and flossing focuses on your teeth mainly, but there’s still plenty of other places for small organisms to hide in your mouth. Using mouthwash will help to get to those areas that are pretty much impossible to reach any other way. These are places like back behind your wisdom teeth or in the crevices of the oral tissue beneath your tongue. These are places you’ll likely never clean very well with a toothbrush or floss.
A lot of oral health is based around making sure the right chemicals are used in the right places at the right time. You’ve probably heard of fluoride before. It’s a big deal when it comes to tooth decay. Brushing with a fluoride based toothpaste is a fantastic way to apply fluoride directly to the surface of your teeth, but as always, there are places you don’t quite get to.
Similar to killing germs in hard to reach places, mouthwash is a great way to apply chemicals like fluoride (or hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening) to places that are hard to get to. This will help you protect your teeth in a much more balanced way.
Flush Out The Bad Stuff
After brushing and flossing, all of the bad stuff in your mouth is loosened up. That’s great! But you still need to get it out of there. Using an oral rinse after brushing and flossing is a great way to clean house. It gets all of the loosened up plaque and bacteria out of those small crevices and removes them from your mouth entirely. Think of it as the cleanup crew for the cleanup crew!
Possibly the biggest use of mouthwash is to clean open wounds. If you’ve got a canker sore, cold sore, irritated surface, loose tooth, or any one of a number of oral wounds, using mouthwash is a fantastic way to make sure it stays clean. The last thing you want after battling a canker sore for three days is to have it get infected. That brings along a whole host of additional issues and will likely result in more pain for a longer period of time. Using mouthwash a few times a day to keep the bacteria from infecting the wound is a great way to make sure things stop as soon as they can. Sometimes it’ll even help the healing process and speed things up a bit!
How To Use Mouthwash
Using mouthwash isn’t exactly brain science, but there are a few areas people tend to mix up. Below we’ve got the basic outline on how to use mouthwash. Look over our full mouthwash guide for more advanced tips and an FAQ.
- Use 10-15 mL of mouthwash (about half an ounce) every time you rinse. Using more than this is simply a waste. It’ll cost you more money in the long run and you won’t see a bit of change. If you’re looking to be super accurate, grab yourself a mouthwash dispenser!
- Rinse for a full 60 seconds. If you’re using an alcohol based mouthwash you might need to build up to this – no problem. Simply use a stopwatch and increase by five or so seconds ever week or two. After a month of consistent use you’ll have no issue.
Make sure to get all areas of your mouth during the rinse, including:
- Underneath the tongue
- Upper and lower gums
- Far back on the sides by the wisdom teeth
- Back of your tongue and throat (gargling)
- When you’re done, simply spit the mouthwash out in your sink. Do not swallow mouthwash. It’ll mess your stomach up and ruin your day. Spit for a good 10-15 seconds to get the majority of the mouthwash out of your mouth. At that point, you’re good to swallow again.
- Make sure you don’t eat or drink for 30 minutes after using mouthwash. The chemicals that kill bacteria, strengthen enamel and whiten teeth all need to work for some time before their effectiveness is entirely realized. If you rinse your mouth out with water or eat breakfast right afterwards, you’ll miss out on a lot of what mouthwash does to help you.
Throughout our days of studying oral health, we’ve come across a few useful tips to keep in mind when using mouthwash. Take a look below for some pro-tips that we’ve found!
Rinse After Eating and Drinking
If you’ve got an alcohol free mouthwash, rinsing after you eat a snack or down a cup of coffee can be a great way to protect your teeth. The general rule of thumb is it takes around 20 minutes for the pH levels in your mouth to normalize after a meal or snack. Rinsing with mouthwash can help to rid your mouth of some of the bacteria as well as the food that they feed on. This’ll help to reduce that acid attack and prevent tooth decay.
If you own a water flosser, stick a bit of mouthwash in there. The main benefit you’ll get from using a water flosser is the water pressure, but having a small concentration of oral rinse will help to kill additional bacteria, which will lead to healthier teeth and oral tissue.
We said this before and we’ll say it again: use the right amount of mouthwash. It makes no sense to use more than you need and you’ll simply be wasting money. Make sure you’re only filling the cap up to the line and use as little as is necessary to get the job done (about half an ounce).
Best Mouthwash Wrap Up
The world of oral rinses can be confusing and downright complicated sometimes. Between the dozens of companies and the hundreds of potential products, finding the oral rinse that works best for you can be tough. The goal for this guide has been to simplify things down to four basic areas most people need help with. If you’re looking for an additional category or have an issue with a product we’ve chosen, please contact us by either dropping a comment below or using our contact page.