With the many types of mouthwash or mouth rinses available, it is helpful to realize that the different categories have specific purposes. Different types of mouthwash include fluoride rinses, antiseptic mouthwashes, and combination mouthwashes. These types are widely available over the counter. A dental professional can also prescribe a mouthwash, such as Peridex or PerioGard, to treat gingivitis, which causes inflammation, swelling, and bleeding of the gums.
A common type of mouthwash, a fluoride mouth rinse can strengthen the teeth and prevent tooth decay. An antiseptic mouthwash kills bacteria and can also freshen the breath. Antiseptic mouthwashes are used before and after surgery to remove bacteria and prevent infections. The antiseptic type of mouthwash is also recommended for some patients with gum disease or thrush, a mouth infection. Because an antiseptic mouthwash can affect the sense of taste and also stain the teeth, consult a dental professional about frequent use.
A combination, or total, mouthwash helps control decay and freshen the breath. A mouthwash containing zinc might be particularly helpful for those who frequently experience bad breath. Those with persistent bad breath should consult a dental professional about other possible causes, including sinus infections or gastric reflux. Other reasons for chronic bad breath include specific foods and medications, as well as infections in the tonsils or lungs.
Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth is also a warning sign for gum disease. Patients with poorly fitting crowns and bridges might have a buildup of bacteria and plaque that causes bad breath. Similarly, patients with poorly-cleaned dentures might also have halitosis, or chronic bad breath. Those who smoke or use chewing tobacco might also have bad breath.
Some people with voice problems should avoid mouthwashes that contain alcohol or other irritating ingredients. No matter what type of mouthwash you choose, you should rinse for the amount of time stated on the product. Avoid using mouthwash in excess of the recommended amount or frequency. Mouthwashes or rinses should not take the place of daily tooth brushing and flossing, which are essential to remove particles of food on and between teeth. No mouthwash is capable of killing the bacteria that causes gum disease.
A newer form of treatment for bad breath involves the use of a custom-fitted mouth tray that applies peroxide directly to the offending bacteria. Tongue brushes and sonic toothbrushes are also helpful for ridding the gums and teeth of plaque and bacteria that may cause odor.