Antiseptic vs. antibacterial mouthwashes


Using a mouthwash as part of regular oral hygiene and management of oral conditions continues to gain popularity among both, kids and adults. You will find a wide variety of mouthwashes and oral care products available. Each one is labeled slightly differently, promising different benefits such as cavity-fighting, antibacterial, antiseptic, breath-freshening and so on.

Antibacterial Mouthwash

Plaque is formed when certain species of bacteria colonize the tooth surface under conditions that promote their growth. If this growth of bacteria is not controlled, it can ultimately turn into calculus and cause swelling in the surrounding tissues. The act of toothbrushing and flossing is how we routinely control the growth of these microbes. To ensure even more efficacy in controlling plaque, a mouthwash can be used. The mouthwash used in this case should be antibacterial. It contains ingredients that regress and inhibit the growth of the bacteria in the plaque. The plaque contains a thin layer called biofilm. Antibacterial mouthwash act on this biofilm and prevent any other bacteria from attaching to the tooth surface.

Antibacterial mouthwashes may or may not contain fluoride. Fluoride content in a tooth is necessary for it to stay protected from caries. The mouthwash can be used twice a day, everyday. It has very few side effects and is rarely irritating to the gum tissues in the mouth.

Antiseptic Mouthwash

In contrast to an antibacterial mouthwash that targets only the bacteria, antiseptic mouthwash targets spores, fungi and viruses too. The alcohol content of this mouthwash helps in eliminating a range of microbes from the oral cavity. This mouthwash also contains sodium bicarbonate, triclosan, sodium chloride and other compounds that have an antiseptic activity. It has great penetration power and can neutralize the acids in the mouth, which in turn, makes it difficult for the microbes to survive in the less-acidic evironment. 

The rich antiseptic content in this mouthwash is thus used to tackle mouth ulcers, erosion of the lining of the oral cavity, infections, foul odor, etc. They are also used before and after oral surgeries to ensure a sterile mouth in both cases. Unlike an antibacterial mouthwash, an antiseptic mouthwash is prescribed for 2 to 4 weeks and needs to be taken in amounts ranging between 10-15 ml. The mouthwash should be used twice daily for 30 seconds before you spit it out.

How to choose?

With many options out there, how can you choose the one that is right for you? 

It’s helpful to talk to your dentist about using mouthwash if you are feeling any confusion. If the target is plaque control, an antibacterial mouthwash will do the trick. However, if a more severe condition is present, an antiseptic mouthwash can be fruitful in combating a range of pathogens.

We recommend visiting your dentist every six months for a thorough routine check-up. Give us a call at +971 4 397 9522 to book an appointment with our expert team of dentists or click here

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