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Is Mouthwash Actually Good for Oral Health?

Learn about the different types of mouthwash, their benefits, and when to schedule a dental checkup at Healthy Smiles of Staten Island.

Everyone knows the basics of oral care. We’re well-versed in the dangers of tartar, plaque, tooth decay, and cavities. We’re taught to keep our mouths clean and fresh, and we’re given the tools to do so. But what about mouthwash? It’s just there sitting on the shelf like a giant question left unanswered. We don’t really educate ourselves about it.

Is mouthwash just an unnecessary step in oral hygiene? Does it actually help patients? Is it essential to our health like flossing and brushing? Most members of the public don’t have the answers to these questions. 

It's like the mysterious sidekick in a superhero movie—always present but never quite getting the recognition it deserves.

The truth is more nuanced than we realize. There are different types of mouthwash on the market, some with important properties capable of making a difference when it comes to our health; others aren’t as useful as they claim to be. 

Here at Healthy Smiles of Staten Island, we're diving into the world of mouthwash to give you a clearer picture of what each type can do. We want to provide you with the insight you need to choose the best option for your oral health. Let's explore the different types and their benefits together.

What Are the Different Types of Mouthwash?

Mouthwashes are typically divided into two broad categories. The first category is cosmetic mouthwash. This is the kind of mouthwash we use to freshen our breath. It’s not capable of improving our oral health, but it is perfect if you’re about to go on a date or if you’re worried about the way you smell. It does not kill bacteria associated with bad breath or other oral conditions. It’s like perfume or cologne. It’s nothing more than fragrance. It does have its place, but for our purposes, it’s really just an afterthought. 

The second category of mouthwash is therapeutic mouthwash, which is specifically formulated with ingredients that can improve oral health. Some therapeutic mouthwashes are available over the counter while others require a prescription.

Different Types of Therapeutic Mouthwashes

Therapeutic mouthwashes are categorized based on their active ingredients. Let’s go over some of the most common ones available on the market.


Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is prized for its ability to keep teeth clean. It can work to prevent cavities and strengthen the enamel, and it can also reverse some of the effects of tooth decay. It’s especially useful when you want to clean hard-to-reach places that we can’t often catch with floss or a toothbrush. Doctors recommend fluoride to patients who have multiple cavities. It’s important to remember that fluoride cannot replace flossing or brushing, but it can augment oral health. 


Chlorhexidine is known for its disinfectant properties. It’s a powerful antibacterial capable of killing the germs that cause gum disease. It can also reduce swelling and bleeding in the gums. It is only available by prescription. 

Cetylpyridinium Chloride

Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) is an antiseptic that reduces the amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth. It can keep plaque from maturing, stopping tooth decay in its tracks, and it’s known for its ability to help prevent gum disease.

Hydrogen Peroxide

When hydrogen peroxide comes into contact with microbes, it kicks off a foaming action that breaks down their cellular walls. It’s a potent antiseptic, and it can also be used to whiten teeth. It’s important to note that hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes are not meant for daily use. When used daily, they pierce through the root and damage the pulp beneath, leading to swelling in the gums and tooth sensitivity.

This is just a short list of what’s available. Therapeutic mouthwashes can also contain various essential oils, salt water, and certain types of alcohol. They vary heavily, and they all have their own benefits. Always research your mouthwash before you purchase it. Some are better than others, and some might not fit your specific condition.

When Mouthwash Isn’t Enough: Top-notch Treatment in Staten Island

Are you experiencing symptoms of gum disease or tooth decay? Do you have a cavity that needs to be treated? 

Sometimes, mouthwash isn’t enough. If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then it might be time to schedule a dentist appointment for a comprehensive checkup, including a teeth cleaning and x-rays. Knowing where you stand can provide peace of mind. At Healthy Smiles of Staten Island, we're dedicated to making your dental experience seamless and comfortable. Don't neglect your oral health – no insurance, no problem. We offer affordable dental treatment plans for the whole family.

Call us today at (718) 948-1600 or book an appointment online. We’ll bring back your healthy smile.