Mouthwash 101: How To Choose The Right Mouthwash For You

Mouthwash can be an excellent addition to your oral health regime. However, with so many products available at your local drug store, it can be difficult to decide the best mouthwash for your needs. Here we provide the basic information you need to help make an informed decision on the best mouthwash formula for you.


The Different Types Of Mouthwash 

The easiest way to shop for mouthwash is to decide how you would like it to help. For example, here is the type of mouthwash you should choose if you want to:

Goal:  Fight cavities and tooth decay

Active Ingredient to look for: Fluoride

If you are worried about cavities and want to fight tooth decay, fluoride mouthwashes are best for you. This is the most common ingredient found in oral health products because it is proven to actively strengthen teeth and help prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is found in your toothpaste and is usually applied by your dentist at your regular dental checkups. If this is the driving force behind your desire to add mouthwash to your oral health regime, you actually might not even need it. Speak to our team to discuss your fluoride needs to see if it is necessary for you to use a fluoride mouthwash.


Goal:  Freshen your breath

Active ingredient to look for: Cetylpyridinium chloride

This is probably the most common reason people choose to use mouthwash. However, when it comes to fighting bad breath, not all mouthwashes will do the trick. The active ingredient you want here is important because it will actually help kill the bacteria that cause bad breath. But if you feel you have bad breath all the time, it could be due to an underlying issue. So you should also speak to our team about bad breath so we can determine the cause.

Also, avoid high alcohol content in mouthwashes when trying to fight bad breath as it can lead to dry mouth which exacerbates the problem. If you don’t produce enough saliva it reduces your ability to continually wash away the bad-breath-causing bacteria.


Goal:  Fight gum disease

Active ingredient to look for: Chlorhexidine

This is a plaque-fighting mouthwash containing hard-working Chlorhexidine. This ingredient kills the bacteria that cause plaque. Plaque buildup can increase your risk for gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. If you’ve been told by your dentist that you are at risk of gum disease or tend to have plaque buildup, this is the ideal mouthwash formula for you.


Goal:  Use natural mouthwashes

Active ingredients to look for: Essential Oils

Essential oils can now be found in mouthwashes so if your goal is to choose more natural products for your overall health, then look for ingredients such as:

  • Menthol or peppermint: This is commonly used as a flavouring, but is also good for fighting bad breath.
  • Eucalyptus and/or thymol (thyme): These ingredients are excellent, and are naturally antifungal/antibacterial so are a good choice to fight cavities and gum disease.


Goal:  Whitening your teeth 

Active ingredient to look for: Carbamide peroxide/hydrogen peroxide 

Both these ingredients are used in teeth whitening products. They can help keep teeth whiter following other whitening treatments, but on their own probably won’t achieve noticeable results. This is because the amount found in mouthwashes is minimal. If teeth whitening is your goal, speak to our team to discuss the most effective teeth whitening treatments for you.


What Are The Benefits Of Using Mouthwash? 

There are many benefits to using mouthwash as part of your oral health regime including:

  • Improved gum health with products containing Chlorhexidine
  • Reduced risk for low-weight or preterm babies for mothers with periodontal disease using a Chlorhexidine mouthwash
  • Fresher breath when you choose products containing Cetylpyridinium chloride or natural essential oils such as cinnamon or peppermint
  • Cavity prevention with fluoride mouthwashes as well as those containing natural thymol or eucalyptus
  • Some whitening benefits when used either in conjunction with other whitening products or over a prolonged amount of time

Speak to our team to find the best mouthwash for your particular needs.  


Are There Any Disadvantages Of Using Mouthwash? 

While there are rumours that mouthwash can have disadvantages, it would be under very specific circumstances. Here are some possible mouthwash myths together with some legitimate concerns:

  • Dry mouth: This can be a legitimate concern if you choose mouthwashes with high alcohol content. Because alcohol can reduce saliva production, always choose a lower alcohol content mouthwash. If you use medications that cause dry mouth, talk to us for advice on the best mouthwash for your needs.
  • Masking bad breath: This is a possible issue when you choose mouthwashes that don’t contain Cetylpyridinium chloride. The challenge here is that in most cases you need to kill the bacteria that causes bad breath, or else your minty fresh breath simply masks the odours for only a limited amount of time. If you don’t choose a Cetylpyridinium chloride product then at least go for cinnamon over mint as it lasts longer. Come see us if you feel you have chronic bad breath as it might be caused by an underlying issue.
  • Mouthwash increases the risk for oral cancer: This is a myth tied to the alcohol content in mouthwash. Even mouthwashes with higher alcohol content do not have enough alcohol to increase your risk for cancer. This is true even for those who are heavy drinkers.


Can Anyone Use Mouthwash? 

For the most part, anyone can use mouthwash. However, there are some cases where it is not advised, including:

  • If you have irritated, swollen gums or canker sores, many types of mouthwash can cause discomfort
  • Mouthwashes should not be used by kids under the age of five
  • If you are allergic to any of the ingredients in the mouthwash you should of course avoid using it

Again, if you are unsure, talk to us for help in finding the most effective mouthwash that’s right for you.

All in all, mouthwashes can prove to be a great addition to your overall health care regime. Together with brushing and flossing and seeing our team for professional, regular cleanings and checkups, you will enjoy excellent oral health for life.  

Call today to schedule an appointment at 905-775-5307 or click here to request an appointment. 



bad breath, dental care, mouthwash, oral health

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