What’s in Your Mouthwash?

You may use mouthwash as a part of your at-home oral hygiene routine. It may be because your dentist recommend you use it or maybe you have an extra sense of oral cleanliness that mouthwash offers. Regardless of the reason behind you use mouthwash, the use of mouthwash adds an additional level of cleanliness and protection from tooth decay and gum disease.

While there are many types of mouthwash, there are two main categories of mouthwash: therapeutic and cosmetic. The vast majority of mouthwashes are therapeutic, providing treatment from tooth sensitivity, bad breath and dry mouth, while also strengthening and cleaning teeth and gums to protect them from disease and decay. Cosmetic mouthwashes often have the sole purpose of whitening teeth. These cosmetic mouthwashes have additional ingredients in them that help remove stains from the surface of teeth.

What about the therapeutic mouthwash you use each night before you go to bed? What ingredients are in it?

Traditional mouthwashes have a variety of active ingredients that are to do everything from killing bacteria to giving the mouthwash a pleasant, sweet flavor. Most mouthwashes have at least 11 active ingredients plus ingredients for the flavoring. Below are the common mouthwash ingredients:

Active Ingredients:

  • Benzalkonium Chloride-Used for its antibacterial properties
  • Benzoic Acid-A common mouthwash ingredient that has good buffering and antiseptic properties
  • Calcium Hydroxide-An inorganic compound that acts as a depository of an additional layer of dentin.
  • Camphor-Used for its aromatic properties as well as a pain reliever
  • Cetylphyridinium Chloride-Acts as an antimicrobial mouthwash agent
  • Chlorhexidine Gluconate-An antiseptic disinfectant used to treat periodontal disease
  • Domiphen Bromide– Used for its antiseptic properties
  • Alcohol-An antiseptic that gives mouthwash its characteristic burning sensation
  • Methparaben-Used for its antimicrobial properties
  • Methyl Salicylate-Used for it aromatic and antiseptic properties
  • Sodium Benzoate– Used as a preservative

Active Ingredients for Flavor

Different mouthwashes will have a different mixture or concentration of different flavoring ingredients depending on what the overall mouthwash flavor is.

  • Clove Leaf Oil
  • Cubeb Oil
  • Cedarwood Oil
  • Eucalyptus Oil-Used for its antibacterial properties
  • Lemon Oil
  • Myrrh Oil
  • Redistilled Mentha Arvensis Oil
  • Sweet Orange Oil
  • Peppermint Oil-Used for its aromatic and antibacterial properties
  • Sucralose-An artificial sweetener to enhance flavor
  • Saccharin Sodium-An artificial sweetener to enhance flavor
  • Spearmint Oil

Emulsifier and Surfactant Ingredients

Emulsifiers and surfactants are what make the mouthwash foam after being swished around in the mouth.

Poloxamer-Acts as a surfactant

Polysorbate-Acts as a surfactant and emulsifier

The majority of mouthwashes one finds in the store or dental office will contain these active ingredients. Some patients, however, may not like using traditional mouthwash because of the numerous chemicals included in them.

Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the use of all-natural mouthwashes and mouthwashes that are alcohol-free. Many of the natural mouthwashes can be made at home using common, inexpensive home products such as coconut oil, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.