✔️ Address your need: First, you’ll want to choose a mouthwash based on your specific need — dry mouth, plaque control, bad breath, etc. — so you can look for the active ingredients that work for your specific issue.
✔️ Key Ingredients: If fighting cavities is your number one concern you’ll want to look for xylitol or sodium fluoride. Sodium fluoride can also help prevent tooth decay and white spots which may be an early sign of tooth decay.
To address bad breath, plaque and gingivitis the ADA recommends looking for chlorhexidine, chlorine dioxide, cetylpyridinium chloride and essential oils such as eucalyptol, thymol and methyl salicylate. Huang also recommends looking for other essential oils such as tea tree oil, cinnamon, orange and lemon.
For whitening, look for mouthwashes that contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide among the active ingredients.
✔️ Alcohol vs. Alcohol-Free: Both Birnur Aral, Executive Director, Beauty, Health & Sustainability Lab, and Huang recommend staying away from alcohol. Not only can alcohol dehydrate your mouth which can increase the risk for cavities and worsen bad breath, but it also can cause a burning sensation.