Monday, April 27, 2009


There are so many choices in the oral health care isle of your grocery store, Wal-mart, or wherever you shop for dental supplies.

I can't possibly cover all of the choices or this entry would be way too long. However, I will break down the most popular brands and hopefully help you choose the product that will work the best for your mouth.

Not all mouthwash was created equally; different mouthwashes have different benefits.

I am going to break the mouthwashes down into these categories:

1) anti-gingivitis 2) anti-cavity 3) for dry-mouth 4) pre-brush rinses 5) for bad breath 6) whitening rinses

1) Anti-Gingivitis

a) Listerine - This mouthwash has been around for a long time and has had the American Dental Association seal for fighting plaque and gingivitis for a long time.

- is great if you have gingivitis (bleeding gums) and collect a lot of plaque around your teeth.

- the new citrus or vanilla mint (less "harsh") flavors do perform at the same level as the mint and peppermint flavors. All the flavored varieties are equally effective to the old brown flavor from long ago.

- contains a high level of alcohol in it: nearly 22%. Alcohol dries out the mouth, which can be very negative if you already have trouble with dry mouth. Some researchers have also shown high alcohol has a negative effect on white fillings.

b) Crest Pro-Health - This is a newer mouthwash that Crest came out with as an alternative to Listerine. The benefits are that Crest Pro-Health doesn't have any alcohol and therefore does not have the harsh taste or drying of the mouth. It kills germs using an ingredient called Cetylpyridinium Chloride. Crest Pro-Health is a very promising product, but does not have the longevity, or years of results to back it up like Listerine.

There are some prescription strength mouthwashes for gingivitis that I will discuss later.

2) Anti-Cavity

a) Act - This mouth rinse has also been around for a long time. It contains a 0.05% sodium fluoride, which if used daily can decrease the decay rate up to 50% in some studies. It is a great rinse for both adults and children that have had troubles with tooth decay, or are at risk for tooth decay.

b) Act Restoring Mouthwash - this is a version of Act that they are marketing to adults. This mouth rinse has the same amount of fluoride as the other rinse, the difference is that this rinse contains 11% alcohol to provide more of a breath freshening effect. This rinse is a great cavity fighter. If you are a teenager to adult that has no trouble with gingivitis, but are always fighting tooth decay. This is your rinse.

c) Listerine Tooth Defense - This is Listerine's brand new mouthwash that is their answer to Act. This rinse is not for children. It has the same nearly 22% alcohol content that the regular Listerine rinses have. Unfortunately it also only has HALF the fluoride content of the Act Restoring Mouthwash. It is a fine product, but Act Restoring would be a better choice for an adult anti-cavity rinse.

3) For Dry Mouth

a) Oasis Mouth rinse (by the makers of Sensodyne) - this mouthwash contains no alcohol (which would dry your mouth out further), but instead contains glycerin and other organic oils that coat and moisturize your mouth. They also make a spray to carry with you and use progressively throughout the day.

b) Biotene Mouth rinse - Biotene has an entire line of products dedicated to help with dry-mouth. I really like that this particular rinse has xylitol, which is a sweetener that actually fights decay. This rinse also has calcium, which helps the enamel on your teeth. If you'd like to know more about xylitol, check out my article on preventing cavities.

4) Pre-Brush rinses

a) Plax - This rinse has also been around a long time. Its advertised claims are that it loosens up plaque before you brush. Numerous research studies have been done on this product, and a review of the literature states that it is not a recommended product.

5) Bad Breath Rinses

Technically, many of the products already mentioned are good for bad breath as well, like Listerine, Crest Pro-Health, etc.

However, the products I'm listing now are simply breath fresheners and really nothing more.

I'll have a separate entry devoted to bad breath, but the best thing you can do for yourself if you're trying to fight bad breath is to get a tongue scraper.

a) Scope - essentially flavored alcohol. This rinse has been a favorite for years. It works for masking bad breath, and tastes pretty good. It will dry your mouth out with the alcohol content, and is not approved for anti-gingivitis or anti-plaque.

b) Breath Rx - this is an effective rinse for bad breath. It contains the same anti-gingivitis ingredient as Crest Pro-Health. Has no sugar or alcohol, and has Zytex to neutralize odor. An expensive product, but works really well.

6) Whitening Rinses

a) Listerine Pre-Brush Whitening

b) Cresh Pro-Health Whitening

These two rinses are very similar. They are both a flavored hydrogen peroxide that will foam up in your mouth. The peroxide may reduce surface stains, but will not whiten your teeth. Brilliant marketing though. They took a quarter's worth of hydrogen peroxide, added some flavoring, some marketing, and clever packaging and charge you $5.00+ with the hope that you'll have beautiful white teeth. It's selling like hot cakes.

Unfortunately the results aren't there to back up the claims.

Much like whitening toothpaste, you may decrease surface stains, but won't get white teeth by using it.

Prescription Rinses:

a) Peridex

b) PerioGard

Both of these rinses are also similar. They are by prescription only and contain chlorhexidine gluconate which is a proven potent bacteria killer. This rinse is commonly prescribed after a deep cleaning or to help reduce gum inflammation.

The downside is that these rinses can cause staining of the teeth that can only be removed by a dental office.

Hopefully you can use this information to make your next purchase of a mouthwash an effective one.

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