If you’d like to add a mouthwash or rinse to your oral care routine, it’s important to be aware of just what a mouthwash or rinse does. Some freshen breath, others provide an anti-cavity benefit from fluoride, while others contain germ-killing ingredients to help prevent plaque buildup. You have many options, and the right mouthwash or rinse for you is the one that meets your dental hygiene needs for the health of your teeth and gums, and taste preference.
To help choose the right rinse, keep these points in mind:
- Alcohol—yes or no?: Alcohol is a component of many mouthwashes and rinses, which can be problematic if a large quantity is deliberately swallowed. If you want to buy one type of mouthwash or rinse for the whole family, and your household includes school-aged children or teens, you may want to choose from among the alcohol-free mouthwash products that are available. Also, some recovering alcoholics avoid mouthwash with alcohol because of the potential for abuse.
- Sensitivity: Some people find the ingredients in mouthwash irritating, especially people who have sensitive gums. Also, people who don’t usually complain of sensitive gums may find that their mouths are more sensitive for a short time if they are recovering from a dental procedure. If you have a sensitive mouth, consider an alcohol-free or natural mouthwash. Natural mouthwashes often contain ingredients such as aloe vera and chamomile for a soothing effect.
- Plaque control: If you want a mouthwash that not only helps control bad breath but also helps to prevent plaque buildup on the teeth, look for a dental rinse that contains anti-plaque ingredients.
If you’re uncertain about which mouthwash or rinse would best meet your oral health needs, ask your dentist or dental hygienist for suggestions.
A complete plan for daily dental hygiene is centered around twice-daily tooth brushing and flossing, but you may also want to consider oral rinses and mouthwash. Oral rinses may contain a variety of ingredients to battle bacteria in the mouth, including cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), a germ-fighting ingredient which has been shown to be safe and effective, although a small number of people have reported a temporary unpleasant aftertaste.
Studies have shown that oral rinses can reduce more plaque and more signs of gingivitis when used in addition to tooth brushing compared with tooth brushing alone. Whatever oral rinse you choose, be sure to follow the instructions and avoid swallowing.
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