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How Do I Choose the Best Fluoride Mouthwash?

Fluoride muthwash.
Unlike regular mouthwash products, fluoride mouthwash has the ability to whiten teeth.
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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2014
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All brands of fluoride mouthwash are capable of providing the same level of protection against cavities and tooth decay. Young children should not use this type of product while enamel is still forming on their teeth, as it can cause permanent discoloration during that period of development. Those who suffer from dry mouth syndrome can purchase products that do not contain alcohol, and encourage the mouth to retain moisture.

Fluoride is a chemical found in many types of toothpaste, mouthwash, and some city water supplies that helps teeth fight cavities. When fluoride is present in saliva, it naturally penetrates the outer surface of teeth where tooth decay may have begun to form. It works to attract strengthening minerals, such as calcium, to bond with areas of tooth decay to form an improved, hardened surface. This new surface is typically much harder and more resistant to future decay, which may be caused by gingivitis and plaque, than the original tooth structure. Fluoride will remain present in the mouth if fluoridated water is regularly ingested, or if an individual brushes or rinses between two and three times a day with a fluoride mouthwash or toothpaste.

Not all mouthwashes contain fluoride, and individuals who are prone to the formation of cavities can benefit from purchasing a product with this unique ingredient. Fluoride is not recommended for children under the age of three, so most mouthwashes formulated for this young age group are made without fluoride and are safe to be swallowed.

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Alcohol is another ingredient commonly found in many brands of fluoride mouthwash. This chemical is typically used to sterilize the mouth and discourage the growth of bacteria along the gum line. Individuals who experience chronic dry mouth syndrome can benefit by purchasing a fluoride mouthwash that is alcohol free. Those who regularly take allergy or sinus medications, drink large amounts of coffee or other caffeinated beverages, or who have been subjected to radiation treatments around the area of the head are often subject to dry mouth, which can cause bad breath. In addition to killing gingivitis, alcohol can also cause the gums and soft palette of the mouth to become dry. Those mouthwashes without alcohol may add additional ingredients designed to help the mouth retain moisture and soothe the discomfort associated with this condition.

The ability to whiten teeth is one of the final items that sets fluoride mouthwash brands apart. This is usually accomplished by incorporating hydrogen peroxide into the ingredient mix, and instructing users to hold it in the mouth for a greater length of time. Teeth whitening typically occurs by either bleaching existing stains, or gently polishing daily stains away. The amount of time mouthwash stays in the mouth is usually not long enough to create a significant difference in the color of teeth, and its chemical content is often mixed at a low percentage so as to avoid damaging the gums. Those interested in significant tooth whitening should contact their dentist for a professional consultation, and may wish to begin using tooth whitening toothpaste, which contains higher levels of whitening chemicals and is designed to target only the teeth.

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