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For millions of British, fresh breath is an important indicator of a person’s health and vivacity. Many people turn to mouth rinses as an easy and effective way to maintain a clean and fresh feeling mouth. Mouth rinses are especially well suited for persons who, for whatever reason, are unable to brush or floss their teeth as often as they should. Mouth rinses, which are monitored by the FDA, are catalogued as either cosmetic or therapeutic.

Cosmetic Mouth Rinses

Cosmetic mouth rinses help to break down bacteria, cleanse the surface of teeth, and provide a pleasant taste in the mouth. Cosmetic rinses are a quick fix to help hide bad breath for up to three hours. Beyond that, cosmetic mouth rinses serve little purpose.

Therapeutic Mouth Rinses

Therapeutic rinses go one step beyond their cosmetic counterparts by preventing certain oral diseases. Therapeutic rinses are broken down into two categories: antiplaque and fluoride rinse. Antiplaque rinses are designed to break-down the plaque that collects on and in between teeth. Tests have shown that these rinses have roughly a 15 to 20 percent rate of effectiveness. Fluoride rinses, on the other hand, are fairly effective in killing the bacteria that lead to cavities. For patients who suffer more persistent problems such as dry mouth, caries, or periodontal disease, a dentist can prescribe specific rinses to combat these conditions.

Mouth Rinsing

Swish the rinse throughout the entire mouth, making sure to cleanse in-between teeth. Rinsing for 1 to 2 minutes is usually sufficient to cleanse germs and freshen breath.

Health Concerns

Mouth rinses can be counterproductive if they hide the odors that indicate a more severe oral problem or disease. If bad breath persists despite proper oral hygiene and the use of mouth rinses, contact your dentist to explore possible solutions. Mouth rinses contain varying levels of alcohol (15 to 25 percent), and should therefore not be ingested. This is especially important for children, who often swallow rinses and may become intoxicated or sick. Children generally have less use for therapeutic mouth rinses due to the lower amount of decay in their mouths. Finally, mouth rinses, if used extensively, can stain teeth. Although mouth rinses do wash away debris and bacteria, they should never be used as permanent substitute for proper dental care.