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What Does Mouthwash Do?

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What Does Mouthwash Do?

Dental hygiene is an important part of your daily life. You brush your teeth, floss regularly and maybe swish some mouthwash around after every session of tooth care. Perhaps you’ve looked at that bottle of mouthwash and wondered what it does for you. That actually depends on what mouthwash you buy. The main purpose of mouthwash is to get rid of bad breath and the bad bacteria while also preventing the same bacteria from building up. How effectively this task is accomplished depends on what’s in your mouthwash.



Some rinses contain fluoride, which will strengthen the outer enamel of your teeth. Usually these rinses aren’t as effective in the ways of bacteria demolition, but they certainly help with tooth sensitivity as that is their primary purpose.


Essential Oils:

The combination of eucalyptol, menthol, thymal and methyl salicylate has been around since the early twentieth century.  Rinses containing these ingredients are effective in demolishing some of the bad bacteria in your mouth by rupturing the bacteria’s cell wall. Some mouthwashes with essential oils in them also contain fluoride with or without alcohol. Rinses with alcohol are more effective, so you may want to keep that in mind when making a decision.


Cetylpyridinium Chloride:

Cetylpyridinium Chloride is an active ingredient in a few mouthwashes, but at different concentrations. Rinses with the proper concentrations are effective in clearing out some of those bad bacteria in your mouth. The proper concentration is at least .045% and anything lower will not be as effective. Be warned that there are some mouthwashes that don’t have the right concentration for your dental health. Rinses containing cetylpyridinium chloride may cause staining for your teeth. But don’t worry, these stains are only external and are easily removable. These mouthwashes also come with or without alcohol, so you have a couple more options when choosing which mouthwash you’d like to use.


Stabilized Chlorine Dioxide:

There are claims that rinses including stabilized chlorine dioxide demolish bacteria by creating a super-oxygenated environment, but these claims are unsupported for the time being. However, research does show that these mouthwashes are effective in reducing that irritating bad breath. These rinses are alcohol free and hold no danger of staining your beautiful teeth.


Delmopinol Hydrochloride:

Mouthwashes that include delmopinol hydrochloride have been proven to effectively clear out bad bacteria and also prevent a future buildup of the same bacteria. The research appears to be sound and these rinses also don’t stain your teeth. While they do contain some alcohol, the amount is only a little.



Many prescription mouthwashes will contain chlorhexidine and will stick around in your mouth better than the average mouthwash. These rinses are excellent in getting rid of bacteria as well as keeping them off your pearly whites. Unfortunately, they can also stain your teeth, but these stains are removable. Most of the time, these mouthwashes are used for patients with a gum disease or those who have had recent dental surgeries.

If you’re unsure about which mouthwash to choose or if your mouthwash is effective enough, feel free to ask your dentist. They may be able to help you find the rinse that works for you. Just keep in mind that while mouthwashes promote great oral health, they are not a proper substitute for brushing and flossing.