Brushing and flossing remain essential elements of any successful daily oral hygiene routine. What about using mouthwash or mouth rinse, though?

Many dentists recommend using mouthwash. However, it can be tough for consumers to figure out which mouthwash is suited to their personalized dental care needs. If you have wondered about all the types of mouthwash on the market, read on to pick one that can meet your needs.

The Difference Between Cosmetic and Therapeutic Mouthwashes and Rinses

There are two basic mouthwash categories — therapeutic and cosmetic. Therapeutic mouthwashes serve a more medicinal purpose, whereas cosmetic mouthwashes can take care of short-term, non-urgent problems.

For instance, you might occasionally have bad breath after eating certain types of food or waking up in the morning. To keep your mouth temporarily fresh, you could use a cosmetic mouthwash.

If you have bad breath because of gum disease or plaque buildup, you might want to choose a therapeutic mouthwash with bacteria-fighting ingredients. Or, if you experience dry mouth, you could try a therapeutic mouthwash specifically designed to banish dryness.

One type of mouthwash is not necessarily better than the other as both cosmetic and therapeutic mouthwashes serve specific purposes.

What to Look for in Marketed Mouthwashes

Unless your dentist recommends a particular type of mouthwash, you will need to carefully look for the best kind on your own. First, ensure any mouthwash you consider meets the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) Seal Program. The CDA Seal ensures the mouthwash has met rigorous standards.

Also, ask yourself if you want an alcohol-based or alcohol-free mouthwash. An alcohol-based mouthwash will usually sting slightly or create a burning sensation in the mouth. It can also kill both good and bad bacteria and sometimes lead to mouth dryness.

Alcohol-free mouthwashes can get rid of some bacteria but are not as effective as their alcohol-based counterparts. Nevertheless, they are gentler and encourage the flow of saliva.

Other Ingredients Common in Mouthwashes

Some of the most popular ingredients in mouthwashes for gums and bad breath include:


  • Fluoride. A few mouthwashes have fluoride, which can help prevent the development of cavities and encourage tooth enamel restoration. However, these must be used as directed because fluoride can be toxic if accidentally swallowed in large amounts.
  • Cetylpyridinium chloride. Cetylpyridinium chloride fights mouth bacteria. If you need a mouthwash to combat gingivitis, periodontitis or recurring bad breath, choose one containing this antibacterial agent.
  • Chlorhexidine. Mouthwashes with chlorhexidine are often prescribed if you have tender gums, red gums or gums that bleed because of gum disease.
  • Carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. Are you looking for a mouthwash to restore a sore mouth due to tiny cuts or other minor issues? This type of mouthwash will foam up and help your mouth heal itself. Hydrogen peroxide may brighten teeth as well.
  • Essential oils. Essential oils can be useful as both cosmetic and therapeutic ingredients in a mouthwash. For example, peppermint oil can leave a pleasing taste and aroma, while eucalyptus oil may soothe a hurting mouth. Essential oils should be added by the mouthwash manufacturer — not the consumer unless suggested by a dentist.


Ask a Dentist About the Right Rinse

The next time you visit us at Dental Choice, ask about mouth rinses and mouthwashes. Feel free to contact us to set up an appointment right away.

Call Us