Most dentists agree that while mouthwash can help keep your mouth healthy, it is not a necessary ingredient in your oral hygiene routine. The best way to protect against cavities and gum disease is to brush your teeth twice daily, floss regularly (once a day), and have your teeth cleaned every six months. Using a mouthwash does have benefits, though. For one, mouthwash can wake you up in the morning, make your breath feel fresher, and help prepare you mentally for your day. There are medical benefits, as well. Some mouthwashes strengthen enamel, while others treat mouth infections.

The following is a list detailing the different types of mouthwashes available today. Some categories overlap, but speaking in general terms, there are three kinds. Each is suited to a specific function, so your individual needs should be first on your mind when considering which to buy.


This first category of mouthwashes only disguises bad breath by making your breath smell fresher. These do not provide any medical benefit and you should not use them to protect against cavities or prevent gum disease. While they do help keep your teeth clean, they do not actually reduce your risk of tooth decay.


Fluoride mouthwashes strengthen the enamel of your teeth and do actually help prevent cavities and reduce your risk of tooth decay. This is due to the fact they contain sodium fluoride, the chemical often found in treated water and toothpaste.


Unlike cosmetics, antiseptic mouthwashes can actually treat patients with bad breath, because they contain a chemical called chlorhexidine gluconate. Used to treat mouth infections, this chemical simply stops the growth of bacteria. Antiseptic mouthwashes also help defend your teeth against the buildup of plaque, although results are limited. You should avoid overusing this type of mouthwash as high levels of chlorhexidine gluconate can cause discoloration of teeth, as well.

Mouthwash and Oral Cancer

There is one other thing you should know: Many brands of mouthwash contain alcohol levels as high as 25 percent. Because alcohol contributes to oral cancer, many studies have linked alcohol-rich mouthwash to the same disease. Some even argue your chances of oral cancer increase by four or five times if you use mouthwash with high levels of alcohol. An increasing number of alcohol-free mouthwashes not linked to cancer are available on the market today.

Call Us Today

If you have any questions about mouthwash or wish to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors at Riverside Dental Group, please contact our office at (951) 689-5031.