Capitalist society means we rarely find ourselves at a loss of options for any of our daily decisions. There’s a near infinite array of restaurants selling their take on a cheeseburger, a million shades of nail polish to make your fingernails truly unique, and an endless supply of quality television programs to stream on any number of digital platforms. While choice is often a great thing, when it comes to our oral health is can be downright confusing at times. Toothpastes boast different promises from whitening to tartar control, and brushes themselves come in a cornucopia of styles, shapes, and colors. Do all of these products care for your teeth the same way? Where does individual preference meet your basic health needs? Today, we’ll be breaking down some of the most common differences in oral rinses and mouthwashes to help you better understand what it is you’re swishing every day!
Antibacterial, Antimicrobial, and Antiseptic
The prefix “anti” means “against”, so it’s fair to assume when a mouthwash boasts that it has “anti-something” properties, it is helping your mouth fight against something else. The three most common “anti”-s we see on mouthwashes are antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiseptic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have strict guidelines about what these words mean and promise. If something is antibacterial is will kill, slow down, or inactivate bacteria—both the good and the bad kind. The words antibacterial and antibiotic are often used almost interchangeably, with antibiotics having a connotation of fighting illness in the body. In reality, things that are antibacterial or antibiotic both work to fight bacteria and infections. Antimicrobial, on the other hand, refers to a substance that has the ability to kill or inactivate bacteria, parasites, fungi, and viruses and is therefore farther reaching than an antibacterial mouthwash. Finally, something that is antiseptic is usually spread over an area of the body in an attempt to reduce the risk of infection. Products that are antibacterial will only target bacteria, whereas those that are antimicrobial or antiseptic work to fight an array of harmful microbes. Even though mouthwashes that are antiseptic or antimicrobial cover a broader spectrum of contaminants, any of these words will ensure that you are purchasing a product designed to help kill off potentially harmful organisms in your mouth.
Knowing What’s Best
In addition to the “anti-” properties, there are dozens of other promises a mouthwash may make. Some offer a boost in fluoride while others promise a whiter smile. Looking for a mouthwash with fluoride is essential as this mineral will help ensure that your enamel is being strengthened to help fight off cavities. When it comes to other mouthwash benefits, much comes down to personal preference. Talking to your dentist about your specific oral needs can help you hone in on a product that is formulated to fit your mouth. From alleviating dry mouth to freshening breath, there is a perfect mouthwash out there for you!
If you have questions about how to incorporate mouthwash into your oral hygiene routine, give us a call at College Drive Dental Associates in Palos Heights to schedule your next appointment today!