best plaque removing mouthwash

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There are a ton of mouthwashes to choose from, so figuring out which is best for you can feel challenging.

One thing all of these products have in common is the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, which provides assurance based on scientific evidence that the product meets specific standards for safety and efficacy.

best mouthwash for gum disease

Best Plaque Removing Mouthwash

Healthline’s medical review team zeroed in on the mouthwashes designed to support dental health. We looked at specific features, such as the active and inactive ingredients in each, as well as taste and price.

Pricing guide

  • $ = under $10
  • $$ = $10–$20
  • $$$ = over $20

Healthline’s picks for the best mouthwashes for better dental care

There are lots of great mouthwashes out there, and this list is by no means complete. We’ve included therapeutic mouthwashes you can buy over the counter and some that require a dentist’s prescription.

Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection


Price: $

The active ingredient in this mouthwash is cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent that’s effective against bad breath, tooth decay, and conditions such as gingivitis and receding or bleeding gums.

It’s alcohol-free so it won’t burn, making it a good choice if you have dry mouth or areas of irritation. Users say they like the minty aftertaste it leaves.

This product may temporarily stain your teeth, requiring strategic teeth brushing or regular cleanings at the dentist’s office. If you have sensitive gums and can’t stand the burning sensation caused by other mouthwashes, this negative may be worth the trade-off.

For a small number of people, the CPC ingredient may leave a taste in their mouth that they find unpleasant, or it may temporarily affect the way foods taste. In these cases, you may want to look at a different mouthwash.

Crest Pro-Health Advanced with Extra Whitening


Price: $

This product is alcohol-free. It contains fluoride for fighting cavities and hydrogen peroxide for removing surface stains and whitening teeth.

It also strengthens tooth enamel and kills the germs responsible for causing bad breath. Users find that it can take several months to see whitening results.

ACT Total Care Anticavity Fluoride


Price: $

ACT Total Care is aluminum-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free, and phthalate-free. Its active ingredient is fluoride, making it an effective choice for reducing dental decay, strengthening tooth enamel, and promoting healthy gums.

This mouthwash comes in two flavors: one formulated with 11 percent alcohol and the other alcohol-free. Check the inactive ingredients list.

ACT Dry Mouth


Price: $

ACT Dry Mouth mouthwash is alcohol-free and doesn’t burn. It’s highly effective at reducing dry mouth for many hours after use. It also contains fluoride, making it an effective cavity fighter.

This mouthwash lists xylitol as an inactive ingredient. Xylitol increases the amount of saliva in the mouth and reduces S. mutans bacteria, which cause plaque to form on teeth.

You’ll get the best results for dry mouth if you follow package directions exactly, and swish ACT Dry Mouth in your mouth for at least 1 full minute. Many users report that this mouthwash tastes good, making this task fairly easy.

Colgate Total Pro-Shield


Price: $

This mouthwash has a mild, peppermint taste and an alcohol-free formula. Its active ingredient is cetylpyridinium chloride. Colgate Total Pro-Shield is a good choice for reducing plaque buildup and for keeping breath fresh.

It kills germs for up to 12 hours, even after eating meals. This mouthwash is a good choice for eliminating the germs and bacteria that cause gingivitis, which can lead to periodontitis and receding gums.

Listerine Cool Mint Antiseptic


Price: $

The active ingredients in Listerine Antiseptic are menthol, thymol, eucalyptol, and methyl salicylate. Along with its alcohol base, these essential oils provide an intense, minty tingle that’s pleasing for some users, but too strong for others.

The essential oils in Listerine Antiseptic have antimicrobial properties, making them very effective at reducing plaque, gingivitis, receding gums, and bad breath.

TheraBreath Fresh Breath


Price: $$

TheraBreath is alcohol-free and antibacterial. It reduces sulfur-producing bacteria in the mouth, eliminating even severe bad breath for up to 1 day.

Its active ingredients include peppermint oil, citric acid, castor oil, tetrasodium edta, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chlorite, and sodium benzoate. Some people find that TheraBreath alters their taste buds temporarily.

CloSYS Ultra Sensitive


Price: $$

This alcohol-free mouthwash is a good choice if you have sensitive teeth. It’s also excellent for eliminating bad breath. It uses chlorine dioxide, an oxidizing agent, to eradicate sulfur-producing bacteria in the mouth.

best mouthwash for receding gums

Peridex prescription mouthwash

Price: $$$

Peridex is only available by prescription, from a pharmacy or your dentist’s office.

Peridex is a brand of medicated mouthwash known generically as chlorhexidine gluconate oral rinse.

Prices vary based on your prescription plan. You may be able to purchase generic chlorhexidine gluconate oral rinse at a lower cost than the name brand.

Other brand names include Perisol, Periogard, and Paroex.

Peridex is a prescription germicidal mouthwash used to treat gingivitis and gum conditions, such as those that cause bleeding, swelling, and redness. It works by killing bacteria in the mouth.

Peridex isn’t right for everyone, and it may cause side effects, such as tooth staining, tartar buildup, mouth irritation, and a decreased ability to taste food and drink. It may also cause allergic reactions that are sometimes serious or life threatening in some people.

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