Good oral hygiene habits are essential for your overall health. Flossing and brushing regularly keep your breath smelling fresh and help you avoid unnecessary pain and trips to the dentist. So, should you use mouthwash as well? How important is mouthwash? First, it may surprise you to know that there are two types of mouthwash.


Types of Mouthwash


According to the American Dental Association (ADA), there are two categories of mouthwash.

First is the cosmetic type of mouthwash. This kind of mouthwash merely offers fresh breath and a pleasant taste. It doesn’t address oral health problems, and it contains no extra ingredients to ward off cavities or fight plaque buildup. There are no chemical benefits in a cosmetic mouthwash, meaning it won’t kill any bacteria or prevent oral health problems.

However, the second type of mouthwash, therapeutic, does offer this extra protection. Therapeutic mouthwashes are prescribed by a dentist, or there are over the counter (OTC) options. This kind of mouthwash has properties that protect you from tooth decay, gingivitis, plaque, and bad breath. Every therapeutic mouthwash has different chemical makeup, but many include ingredients such as:

  • Fluoride
  • Peroxide
  • Cetylpyridinium chloride
  • Chlorhexidine
  • Essential oils

Mouthwashes that contain chlorhexidine are only available by prescription. Essential oils and chlorhexidine both control gingivitis and plaque. Cetylpyridinium chloride is sometimes used to help with bad breath. Peroxide is used for teeth whitening, and finally, fluoride prevents tooth decay.


Do I Need to Use Mouthwash?


Mouthwash adds additional benefits when used alongside other positive habits like daily brushing and flossing. It does not, however, take the place of brushing or flossing. Mouthwash can support dental health in many ways, though. The right mouthwash can:

  • Reduce plaque
  • Prevent or cure dry mouth
  • Fend off bad breath
  • Avoid plaque
  • Prevent gingivitis
  • Whiten yellow or discolored teeth


When looking for the best OTC mouthwash, make sure you choose one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance. This seal proves that the mouthwash is safe and effective for the purposes it claims. Here at Danville Family Dentistry, we always want to ensure our patients are protected by these safeguards.

If your main concern is bad breath, a cosmetic mouthwash is appropriate. You can even find small, travel-sized bottles to keep at work or take on vacation.

If you want a mouthwash that protects against gum issues or plaque, check your local drugstore for products containing fluoride. If dry mouth is a problem, look for a mouthwash explicitly made for that issue. Also, make sure it lists the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

There is one safety precaution to consider if you’re buying mouthwash for your whole family. Children under six years of age shouldn’t attempt to use mouthwash. At that age, they’re still young enough that they might swallow mouthwash, which is unsafe. If you’re unsure about the safety of mouthwash for your entire family,  call Danville Family Dentistry today at 317-745-4400, and we’ll help you choose the best and safest products.

Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.