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Choosing a Mouthwash

While not a replacement for daily brushing and flossing, use of mouthwash (or mouthrinse) can be a helpful addition to the daily dental hygiene routine. Mouthwash can get in between teeth like floss. Reaching areas that your toothbrush can’t get to helps to reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease.  Mouthwash can help:

  • Prevent or control tooth decay

  • Reduce plaque (a thin film of bacteria that forms on teeth) 

  • Prevent or reduce gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease) 

  • Slow tartar (hardened plaque) forming on the teeth

  • Freshen breath

There are two main types of mouthwashes: therapeutic and cosmetic. Therapeutic mouthwashes have active ingredients (such as fluoride) that kill bacteria and can help reduce plaque, gingivitis, cavities and bad breath. Some therapeutic mouthwashes require a prescription, but many mouthwashes are available over-the-counter. Cosmetic mouthwashes may temporarily control or reduce bad breath and leave your mouth with a pleasant taste, but don’t reduce your risk of cavities or gum disease. When selecting an over-the-counter mouthwash, look for products that carry the ADA (American Dental Association) Seal of Acceptance, which means that they have been tested and shown to be safe and effective. 

Mouthwash is not recommended for children younger than 6 years of age. They may accidentally swallow large amounts of the mouthwash, which can cause nausea, vomiting and intoxication (due to the alcohol content in some rinses). Please check the label and follow specific precautions, instructions, and age recommendations.

Brian Y. Kuo DDS FAGD

(626) 800-8022

😃 Mouthwash can help reduce tartar buildup, but only a professional cleaning can remove tartar from teeth.


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