Mouthwash is a very important part of your daily dental care routine. Floss, brush, mouthwash – that’s a well-rounded habit. Younger children shouldn’t use mouthwash yet, but for older kids, teens, and adults, mouthwash helps in keeping mouth bacteria populations under control while helping to prevent tooth decay.

So which should you use: fluoride or antimicrobial mouthwash?

Dr. Renee says, “It really depends on what you need your mouthwash to accomplish.”

Protection against cavities: fluoride mouthwash

A fluoridated mouthwash helps if you are prone to cavities. This makes fluoride mouthrinses ideal for younger children or teens, especially those with a sweet tooth. While it doesn’t reduce the bacteria in plaque, it does strengthen tooth enamel against decay.

At night, before sleep, a fluoride mouthwash strengthens teeth during the time when the mouth will not be exposed to foods for many hours. Additionally, our mouths tend to become dry at night so putting a shield of fluoride on the teeth can be protective.

Mouth freshness: alcohol-free, chloride or organic/herbal mouthwash

We recommend regular mouthwash that contains mint or cleansing properties like various types of chlorides. Too much alcohol swishing can dry out your mouth, and dry mouths aren’t friendly to teeth and gums. So if you don’t have other issues like bad breath or problems with your gum tissues but like the fresh, clean feel of mouthwash, swishing with something mild and alcohol-free may be the best thing for you.

Natural/herbal choices include aloe vera or clove mouthwashes making many alcohol-free and natural mouthwashes antimicrobial because of their active ingredients!

Bad breath and gum problems: antimicrobial mouthwash

Really bad breath, bleeding or receding gums are signs that something is not right in the oral cavity. Schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss the root cause of these issues. And in the meantime, floss, brush, and use an antibacterial or antiseptic mouthwash.

Available over the counter or by prescription, antimicrobial mouthwash is strong enough to get rid of many of the bacteria that cause halitosis and gingivitis. Alcohol content can be high and harsh, or there are alcohol-free options. Either way, antibacterial mouthwashes reduce mouth bacteria by up to 75%.

There are prescription mouthwashes that have even higher anti-microbial properties. They usually contain chlorhexidine, which helps treat irritated, swollen, red and bleeding gums. This can stain teeth, but it works to reverse gum disease and assists in healing of mouth sores.

Remember that mouthwash is NOT a substitute for flossing and brushing! Brush at least twice a day and floss every day.

About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates

Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options.  We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.

39400 Garfield Rd., Suite 200
Clinton Township, MI
Phone: 586-286-0700
Fax: 586-286-5932


Image Courtesy of AARP