Why use mouthwash? While not a replacement for daily brushing and flossing, use of a mouthwash may be a helpful addition to your daily dental hygiene regimen. Just like floss and interdental brushes, mouthwash can get in between teeth, reaching areas your toothbrush can’t get to. Mouthwash can help: prevent or reduce tooth decay and gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease), reduce plaque and the speed in which tarter (hardened plaque) forms on the teeth, as well as freshen breath.
Types of mouthwashes There are two main types of mouthwashes: Therapeutic and Cosmetic. Therapeutic mouthwashes have active ingredients that kill bacteria and can help reduce plaque, gingivitis, cavities, and bad breath. Mouthwashes that contain fluoride help prevent or reduce tooth decay. Some therapeutic mouthwashes require a prescription, talk to your dental team about whether you need a mouthwash, and what kind to use. Cosmetic mouthwashes may temporarily reduce bad breath and leave you with a fresh, pleasant taste but do not reduce the risk of tooth decay.
Considerations Mouthwash is not recommended for children 6 and under as they may accidently swallow large amounts of mouthwash. This may cause nausea, vomiting, or intoxication (due to alcohol content in some mouthwashes). Always check the label and follow instructions, age recommendations, and any specific precautions.
American Dental Association Approval Many mouthwashes are available over-the-counter. When selecting a mouthwash, look for products that have the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance. This means they have been tested and shown to be both safe and effective.