Oral rinses, or mouthwashes, have a variety of purposes. Some are cosmetic in nature and offer only a fresh breath. Others are used to whiten teeth. Many others are used therapeutically, to fight gum disease, kill bacteria, control plaque and tartar, and to prevent cavities.  Your doctor or dentist may also prescribe special oral rinses to deal with specific issue such as thrush or to promote healing after surgery.

The effectiveness of oral rinses is a subject of significant debate, although research shows that most have benefits.  But it’s important to remember that oral rinses by themselves are not a substitute for other oral hygiene.  It’s still important to brush and floss—in fact, these are still typically more important than using oral rinses.

And remember that most effects of oral rinses are temporary—they can mask bad breath, for example, but typically only for a few hours.  If you have persistent bad breath, it may be caused by infection or other condition, and you should promptly consult your dentist or a physician.

However, when used in conjunction with proper brushing and flossing, or if prescribed by your dentist or doctor for a specific condition, oral rinses can be a very important tool for helping you have a healthy mouth and a bright smile.

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