While you might think that all mouthwashes are the same, different types perform different functions in your mouth. Many are more than cosmetic and are used to strengthen your teeth. Some help to fight tooth decay, while others are designed to deal with halitosis (bad breath). In addition, certain specialized mouthwashes are provided by your dentist to address serious dental issues, such as an infection. Consult with your dentist so you can choose the mouthwash that will work best for your specific needs. Below is a description of some of the most commonly used types of mouthwash.
A fluoride mouthwash contains sodium fluoride to help strengthen your teeth. It also provides additional protection against any possible tooth decay. However, the fluoride that you get from tapwater and from the toothpaste you use is usually more than sufficient to protect your teeth. You don't want to consume more fluoride than you actually need.
A cosmetic mouthwash does little more than cover up bad breath and help keep your teeth clean. It is not very effective at reducing the possibility of tooth decay.
An antiseptic mouthwash contains a chemical known as chlorhexidine gluconate, which helps prevent the growth of bacteria. Since bacteria is one of the main causes of bad breath, this type of mouthwash is often used for this problem. It's also given to patients who have a mouth infection. While antiseptic mouthwashes can help fight the buildup of plaque, you still need to use dental floss and a toothbrush as well. Avoid overuse of this mouthwash, since it can discolor your teeth over time.
Natural mouthwashes contain no fluoride or alcohol, and are more or less the same as a cosmetic mouthwash.
Some people choose to use homemade natural mouthwash, which can be made by adding a pinch of salt to warm water. This mixture is often used following a tooth extraction or to treat a mouth infection.
Total Care Mouthwash
Total care mouthwash usually contains antibacterial agents that will help to prevent gum disease and fight the buildup of plaque on your teeth. They sometimes also contain whitening agents.
This type of mouthwash is one that has to be prescribed by your dentist. It's used when you have problems like mouth ulcers or when your mouth tissues are inflamed because of cancer treatment. It might contain any combination of the following: antibiotics, anesthetic, glucocorticoids, antifungals or antacids.
Note: Some of these mouthwash types can actually interfere with the effectiveness of other types. For example, if you have been given a magic mouthwash containing antibiotics or antifungal's, you should confer with a dentist, such at those found at Daniel M. Bade, DDS, before using any other type of mouthwash at the same time.