We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Antibacterial Mouthwash?

By Elizabeth West
Updated May 21, 2024
Our promise to you
BeautyAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At BeautyAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Antibacterial mouthwash is often prescribed by dentists to reduce microbes in the mouth that cause gingivitis, a common gum disease. A non-prescription version uses high amounts of alcohol instead of antibiotics and has more an antiseptic effect. While most of these oral drugs are safe, side effects can occur. Antiseptic non-prescription rinses are available for those without serious conditions who wish to avoid alcohol.

Most people use mouthwash for halitosis, or bad breath, caused mostly by the action of bacteria on plaque deposits or particles. They release sulfur compounds that cause an unpleasant odor. Halitosis can also be the result of a very dry mouth, smoking, or health conditions such as diabetes and respiratory diseases. People with persistent halitosis should see a doctor to make sure an underlying problem can be treated.

For more serious conditions like gingivitis, dentists may prescribe antibacterial mouthwash along with a regimen of improved oral hygiene. These rinses may contain tetracycline, an antibiotic to kill the bacteria, hexetidine which reduces irritation and bleeding, and sometimes an anesthetic agent for pain. Nystatin is an antifungal that is often prescribed for Candida, a yeast organism that causes thrush.

Chlorhexidine gluconate, an antiseptic in both antibacterial mouthwash and the non-prescription type, has been found to inhibit the growth of plaque germs. The results only last a few hours. An antiseptic rinse should supplement good oral hygiene, such as regular brushing and flossing, not replace it. Regular care will help reduce the instance of halitosis that is not caused by another health condition. Antibacterial mouthwash containing antibiotic agents is rarely needed, however, to treat the more common causes of bad breath.

Many non-prescription mouthwashes contain alcohol that does kill germs but dries out mucous membranes in the mouth. Some scientists believe alcoholic mouthwash contributes to oral cancer, as higher than average rates are seen in chronic drinkers. It is known that chronic alcoholics sometimes abuse mouthwash when alcohol in another form is unavailable and may ingest more than the average user. As of 2011, a definitive link between the use of high-alcohol mouthwash and oral cancer has not been proven.

Antibacterial mouthwash can have the same side effects as an oral medication in pill form. Some people are allergic to tetracycline and other antibiotics. They can experience a serious reaction with swelling in the face and throat and breathing problems. Chlorhexidine has been known to stain teeth with prolonged use. Patients may also have an upset stomach, diarrhea and a bad taste in the mouth.

If patients don't need an antibacterial mouthwash, there are alternatives to alcohol-based antiseptics. Herbal preparations available in health food stores contain herbs or Xylitol®, a natural sweetener with a lower glycemic index than sugar. Many people swear by a solution of one teaspoon of salt in one cup of warm water as an economical and effective rinse to treat a sore throat or mild mouth injuries and infections. Dentists can also recommend safe alcohol-free preparations for children.

BeautyAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
BeautyAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

BeautyAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.