With so many products on the market, choosing a good mouthwash is no easy task. The oral hygiene sections in your local pharmacy are likely overwhelmed with categories such as alcohol-free, anti-plaque, anti-gingivitis, and all-natural.

You, of course, as an experienced consumer would like to find the overall best mouthwash. The one that fits all of the above-listed categories and has non-harmful ingredients. Lucky for you, this is exactly what our top pick offers.


Crest Pro-Health

best mouthwash

This is our best overall mouthwash – it really has no special benefit that’s marketed, it’s just a general all-round great mouthwash for every-day use. Crest are trusted for their superb toothpaste, and their range of mouthwashes are just as excellent.

The Crest Pro-Health comes in different size bottles, which is much more cost-effective when you’re using this mouthwash once or twice daily. It’s also a nice light blue color – clear, rather than murky. It may be superfluous, but the appearance of the mouthwash really does make a difference to your experience using it. There’s not much worse than being off-put by the look of a murky, green mouthwash.

The fresh mint taste was pleasant, and we definitely got that squeaky clean sensation without feeling like we’d rinsed our mouths with highly concentrated detergent. No complaints here!

  • Perfect for everyday use and comes in larger bottles.
  • Alcohol-free with sodium fluoride active ingredient.
  • Packed full of minerals (including calcium) to repair and strengthen enamel.

NOTE: Do not forget to check out our post on the best whitening mouthwash.

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It is important to note that no mouthwash will ever replace good oral health habits. Brushing, flossing, and dental cleaning will always remain the leaders in teeth and gum related diseases. Having said that, rinsing is widely recognized as an adjunctive treatment by the dental society of America. As such, it is meant to provide additional strengthening to your gums and enamel.

Having said that, the mouthwashes on our list offer unique germ-fighting ingredients that can complement brushing and flossing. After all, your teeth represent a mere 25% of your entire mouth’s surface area. The other 75% still constitute a very hospitable environment for bacteria and germs to settle down and cause all kinds of oral health problems.

In this regards, rinsing is by far the most efficient way to ensure that your entire mouth is protected from the nasty germ and bacteria formations.

Top 7 Mouthwash Brands

crest pro health
Our top pick

Crest Pro Health

  • Alcohol-free

  • Total care

  • 1 liter

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Colgate Total Daily Repair
Colgate Total Daily Repair

  • Alcohol-free

  • Total care

  • 1 liter

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  • Alcohol-free

  • Natural

  • 480 ml

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The Natural Dentist
The Natural Dentist

  • Alcohol-free

  • Anti-gingivitis

  • 500 ml

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ACT Advanced Care
ACT Advanced Care

  • Alcohol-free

  • Anti-plaque

  • 532 ml

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Plax Advanced Formula
Plax Advanced Formula

  • Contains alcohol

  • Anti-plaque

  • 709 ml

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Biotene Fresh Mint
Biotene Fresh Mint

  • Alcohol-free

  • Best for dry mouth

  • 1 liter

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The Colgate Daily Repair mouthwash was also a very good all-around mouthwash – it was considerably cheaper than the Colgate Total Daily Repair and as such the quality just wasn’t quite the same. That being said, it’s still a very good mouthwash we’d highly recommend to anyone who doesn’t want to splash out on the Crest Pro winner.

The Colgate Daily repair contains active ingredients to help fight plaque and gingivitis – these anti-bacteria/plaque ingredients are effective, but you’ll notice on the ingredients label that aside from this, there really isn’t much going into the mouthwash. Without the fluoride and calcium minerals, this will clean your mouth thoroughly but doesn’t really help you build up strong, healthy enamel.

Still a fantastic mouthwash we’d recommend using with a strong, top of the range toothpaste.

  • Super cheap – very budget friendly.
  • Active ingredient Cetylpyridinium chloride to fight plaque and gingivitis.
  • Alcohol free.

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PerioBrite Nature’s Answer

best natural mouthwash

This interesting mouthwash is packed full of natural, recognizable ingredients including clove oil, lavender oil, aloe vera, oregano, green tea and lemon peel. It has a fresh, minty taste that can rival some of the non-organic mouthwashes and will genuinely leave you with a clean taste in your mouth.

Many of the ingredients are used as natural remedies for oral problems; clove oil is the most well-known. We can say with certainty that this mouthwash does work, it is full of ingredients that are actually beneficial for your dental hygiene… but it doesn’t have the strong, anti-bacterial, anti-plaque fighting chemicals that are in the other mouthwashes on this list. We found it to be ideal for vegans and healthy living enthusiasts who want to avoid harsh chemicals.

The biggest downside was the color. There are no artificial colors or flavorings, so you will need to get used to the oily, brown liquid.

  • Alcohol and harsh chemical free with an unintimidating ingredients list.
  • Fantastic for sore gums (clove oil is the key ingredient for this).
  • Minty, clean taste despite the color.

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The Natural Dentist

best anti-gingivitis mouthwash

Not only is the Natural Dentist Healthy Gums mouthwash chock full of natural ingredients, but it also has a nice orange flavor that’s great for people who aren’t fond of mint. A few of the Dental Dorks team didn’t take well to the orange flavor, so it’s certainly an acquired taste, but what we could all agree on was that this mouthwash is very effective at treating and soothing gum problems.

It gives a gentle soothing sensation on swollen gums and many of the people who use it regularly do report that there is a significant reduction in gum bleeding. Gingivitis can get progressively worse even with regular brushing, so it’s very reassuring to know that with this mouthwash you can get effective treatment without even going to the dentists.

  • Aloe vera active ingredient to battle gingivitis.
  • Fresh, citrus orange taste.
  • Alcohol-free.

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ACT Advanced Care

best anti-plaque mouthwash

While most mouthwashes are fairly effective at removing plaque build-up, we’ve found that few are actually noticeably effective at reducing and preventing plaque build-up over a longer period of time. ACT Advanced Care is one of those mouthwashes that does make a big difference to plaque build-up when used regularly.

The active ingredient is Cetylpyridinium chloride, the same as our Runner-Up Overall mouthwash but in a stronger concentration. They don’t over complicate their ingredients list either, as the rest are all the typical non-active ingredients you’d expect to see in a mouthwash.

Simple yet effective is how we’d sum this up! The flavor is a cool mint and the color is a vivid green – this might put some people off compared to a blue shade.

  • Effective plaque control with Cetylpyridinium chloride active ingredient.
  • Alcohol-free.
  • Bright green color and fresh mint flavor.

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Plax Advanced Formula


Our runner-up anti-plaque mouthwash is the Plax Advanced Formula, another turquoise green shade wash with a difference. Unlike the majority of the best-selling mouthwashes, Plax Advanced Formula is designed to be used before brushing your teeth. It works by loosening the plaque allowing you to brush more effectively.

This made it tricky to test, as it was a challenge working out whether it was the brushing action or mouthwash that was really making a difference. So, we set out to incorporate the mouthwash in our usual Dental Dork regime by using it before our usual, favored toothbrush, paste, and floss combo. The results were quite impressive! The only reason this is not top of the anti-plaque section is that it does contain alcohol.

  • Pre-brush mouthwash to aid plaque removal.
  • Contains alcohol (8.7%) and is, therefore, a bit controversial.
  • Turquoise green shade and not too powerful mint flavor.

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Biotene Fresh Mint

top mouthwash for dry mouth

The Biotene Fresh Mint Mouth rinse is superb for gently moisturizing and restoring balance to a very dry mouth. Instead of using harsh chemicals and bright flavors to give you an ultra-clean feel, this mouthwash soothes and balances your mouth to neutral pH.

Dry mouth can cause serious problems, leave you with bad breath and also increased the chances of cavities forming. The Biotene mouthwash handles both the immediate symptoms and long-term problems of having a dry mouth. Over the course of the weeks we used the wash, we definitely could feel it working on moisturizing as it soothed.

It also has some very impressive reviews from those suffering from dry mouth, claiming it really worked wonders. You can use this mouthwash up to 5 times a day, for dry mouth relief at any time.

  • Gentle, soothing clean that moisturizes a dry mouth.
  • Alcohol-free, sugar-free and a refreshing flavor.
  • Provides a balanced pH for your mouth to prevent further drying.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about mouthwash? We have the answers below. You can always contact your dentist for further information – they may have some great recommendations for you. If you’re experiencing adverse reactions to your mouthwash or suffer an oral medical condition, it’s best to contact them straight away.

Question: Is it bad to have alcohol in mouthwash?

Answer: According to the FDA, not necessarily. Not only do they say that the studies into alcoholic mouthwashes and oral cancer are weak at best, but they also state that “Although some OTCmouth rinses contain alcohol, the potential for development of drug tolerance and addiction due to use of these products seems negligible.” With so many great and effective alcohol-free mouthwashes available, if you’re at all concerned about oral cancer you can switch very easily without impacting your dental health.

Question: What are the active ingredients in therapeutic mouthwashes?

Answer: There are many different ingredients in therapeutic mouthwashes, the majority of which are un-active, like essential oils, mint flavoring, and minerals. However, to fight bacteria and infections, your mouthwash might contain active ingredients such as:

  • Anti-fungals (to treat/prevent conditions like oral thrush)
  • Antiseptics (to kill bacteria and micro-organisms in your mouth without being absorbed into your body)
  • Antibiotics (to kill bacteria and micro-organisms within your body, absorbed through the mouth)
  • Anti-Inflammatories (to reduce inflammation and swelling: great for tender gums)

Question: Is mouthwash safe for kids?

Answer: Mouthwash is considered safe for kids older than 6 by the American Dental Association. This is generally because children younger than this can swallow large amounts by mistake. For this reason, we’d recommend never giving alcoholic mouthwashes to kids over 6 years of age either! Dental hygiene is important to teach to your kids early on, but always stay safe and supervise them when using mouthwashes.

That sums up our guide to mouthwashes in 2018! We’ll be sure to update this guide when newer and better mouthwashes emerge, but for now why not check out our guides to the best electric toothbrushes for 2018 in the meantime? After all, you can’t just rely on mouthwash.

Common Benefits of Mouthwashes

Most mouth rinses will have the same benefits to varying degrees of effectiveness. Some will have a more specific purpose, for example, to beat bad breath or treat oral thrush, but you can generally assume that a mouthwash will:

  • Freshen up your mouth and prevent bad breath, at least temporarily.
  • Flush out any morsels of food that you missed or loosened while flossing and brushing.
  • Prevent plaque from forming on your clean teeth after you brushed it all away.

Depending on the ingredients of the mouth rinse, you may also see these benefits:

  • Long-term bad breath solutions for those suffering from chronic bad breath (anti-bacterial ingredients).
  • Reduce the possibilities of developing cavities (as some mouthwashes contain fluoride like your toothpaste).
  • Sooth sensitive or swollen gums (anti-inflammatory ingredients).

There are also some mouthwashes out there designed for sensitive teeth, that will have all or some of the benefits mentioned without the harsh, verging on painful sensation.

We thoroughly tested 17 types of mouthwash in order to analyze how their benefits compared – if we felt the benefits at all. It is important to remember that although mouth rinses can be a fantastic way of adding an extra layer of protection for your mouth, they shouldn’t be relied on as the primary method of cleaning your teeth.

Common Health Concerns with Mouthwashes

Like many products that are full of chemicals and encouraged for daily use, mouthwash has been the subject of some pretty intensive studies to analyze the effects it can have on your health. There’s been some scaremongering over the years, as well as some over-exaggerated benefits. Here are the most common health concerns we hear about mouthwashes, and the truth about whether you should be worried too.

Oral Cancer

There have been several studies into the effects of alcoholic mouthwashes and oral cancer. Unfortunately, not all of these studies have been reliable and scientific in their methods. You can also find (with a bit of research) many studies that contradict the links between alcoholic mouthwashes and cancer. It’s a well-known fact that frequent consumption of alcoholic beverages increases your chances developing cancer, but whether mouthwashes have the same affect (as they are not typically swallowed) is still debated. Regardless, you’ll find that because of this debate, there are plenty of alcohol free mouthwashes available.

“Not Safe to Swallow”

This is a label you will find on pretty much all mouthwashes, indicating that you should spit it out rather than swallow. This doesn’t mean it’s a toxic, unsafe product to use. It simply means that it’s not suitable for digestion! It’s designed for your teeth and is perfectly safe to use when you follow the instructions.

Painful/Irritation on Open Sores

You might feel some stinging if you have a cut in your mouth when you use mouthwash. This usually isn’t anything to worry about – you’d feel the same sting when applying anti-septic products on grazed knees, for example. If you have canker sores or ulcers in your mouth, the mouthwash can irritate them. Check the label to see if your mouthwash is still okay to use or if you need to wait until the sores have healed.

Author: Peter Mayhew

Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.