Mouthwash or mouth rinses are often used by people to eliminate bad breath quickly. Mouthwashes can temporarily relieve bad breath, but they cannot remove the underlying cause of bad breath. Repeatedly using mouthwash to remove bad breath is a sign that a problem exists, like gingivitis, which needs to be checked by a dentist.
Although mouthwash cannot truly cure bad breath, it can be used as a preventive measure. Antibacterial mouthwashes contain ingredients that fight bacterial plaque, and this helps to prevent gum disease. Not all mouthwashes are antibacterial, however. Some mouthwashes are categorized as cosmetic mouthwashes or mouth rinses. These do not fight bacteria, and can only cover bad breath. Therapeutic mouth rinses contain agents that fight bacteria, and some therapeutic mouthwashes contain fluoride, which protects tooth enamel and strengthens the teeth.
Rinsing with mouthwash also helps to remove food debris from your mouth. Mouthwash should never be used as a substitute for brushing and flossing. There is no particular order in which you should brush, floss and rinse, though it is most common for people to use mouthwash after brushing and flossing.
Most mouthwash contains alcohol. Alcohol-free mouthwash is available and recommended for children, especially young children who may be inclined to accidentally swallow mouthwash. Mouthwash that does not contain alcohol is generally milder than regular mouthwash, so people with mouth sensitivity often prefer to use alcohol-free mouthwash. There is some evidence that alcohol-free mouthwash may be better for your oral health due to the fact that alcohol has a drying effect on the mouth.
The American Dental Association evaluates mouthwashes and mouth rinses for quality and effectiveness. Mouthwashes that carry the ADA Seal on their labels have scientifically proven to the ADA that they contain ingredients that fight bacteria and are safe to use. Some brands of mouthwashes are labeled as “anti-gingivitis,” “antibacterial” or “anti-plaque.” These claims must be verified by the ADA in order for the mouthwash to display the ADA Seal. The ADA Seal will be accompanied by a statement explaining why the mouthwash earned the seal. In addition, the ADA evaluates and approves everything that is written on the label of mouthwashes that carry the seal.