How to Choose the Right Mouthwash

Even though it is a simple, inexpensive, and effective way to maintain dental health, only 31 percent of adults use mouthwash according to the Oral Health Foundation. You realize mouthwash is something you should continue to use or add as part of a solid oral health care regimen, but do you really understand what you're sloshing around in your mouth? Make sure you know your options so you're choosing the best product for your needs.

Identify Your Biggest Challenges

Mouthwashes today aren't created equal. They may not work the way you think they do and won't treat your oral health needs in the same way. Once you've identified your key challenges, you can check the ingredient labels on various products to find the right match.

  • Dental cavities and extreme dryness of the mouth (xerostomia): Both xerostomia and dental cavities are caused by a buildup of harmful bacteria in the mouth. The best fit for these issues is a fluoride mouthwash. Avoid alcohol-based mouthwashes if you suffer from dry mouth since these can further increase dryness.
  • Sensitivity: If your teeth are extremely sensitive, you'll want to look for a natural mouthwash, or at least one that's alcohol-free to ensure a painless experience. Arginine also helps with sensitivity.
  • Plaque buildup: If you feel like you're always struggling to fight pesky plaque buildup, check ingredient labels for active ingredients like thymol, triclosan, and cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC).

Evaluate Your Oral Care Routine

How To Choose the Right Mouthwash

Image via Flickr by Steve Snodgrass

Where does mouthwash fit in your dental care routine? Ideally, you're adding a mouthwash as a final complement to a well-rounded routine that includes twice-daily brushing and flossing. If you know you're falling short in some areas, the right mouthwash can help pick up the slack.

People with healthy teeth typically get ample fluoride from their toothpaste, but if you work long hours and find it easier to rinse your mouth than to brush after a meal, using a fluoride rinse can help make up for what you're missing. Your standard anti-plaque or anti-gingivitis mouth rinse is a solid addition to a regular routine of brushing and flossing. If you're looking for a boost to your breath midday, a cosmetic rinse formulated for fresh breath will offer a brief minty jolt, though it provides few dental health benefits.

Ask Your Dentist for Assistance

The mouthwash selection you'll find on a drugstore shelf isn't all-inclusive. There are more powerful products that you can access with a prescription from your dentist. If you're dealing with a serious bacterial imbalance, infection, or other problem, you should ask a dental care professional about your options. A prescription mouthwash is the best way to fight a case of gingivitis and other serious issues.

Read the Packaging

Carefully read the packaging before you make your final selection. Look for a product with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval. The ADA verifies the claims on the bottle, so you can rely on these products to provide real health benefits. Take time to check the ingredients on product labels as well, and look up active ingredients that you're unfamiliar with.

The right mouthwash is a smart addition to your daily dental care, but you should always make sure you're picking the right product.

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