In addition to regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings, add one of these alcohol-free mouthwashes to your routine to help fight and prevent gingivitis.
Gingivitis, a common inflammation of gum tissue caused by plaque buildup, may not seem like a big deal on its own. But left untreated, this milder form of gum disease can lead to a more serious form called periodontitis. Over time, periodontitis can cause receding gums and even tooth loss.
Flossing every day, brushing teeth with a fluoride toothpaste, and getting regular dental cleanings are important whether or not you have gingivitis. But good oral hygiene is especially essential if your dentist tells you that you have it, since maintaining healthy dental habits can help keep symptoms at bay and prevent the condition from worsening.
In addition to the steps above, many people also like rinsing with a mouthwash to freshen breath and help fight bacteria. "Mouthwash helps control bacteria’s propensity to establish well-organized colonies," says Trey Wilson, DDS, a New York City-based dentist. "Bacteria have to be well colonized in order produce the culprits that create gingivitis and bad breath."
But it's important to note that on its own, mouthwash can't prevent gingivitis. "I’m not a huge believer in mouthwashes as a first or even second defense against gingivitis," Dr. Wilson says. "Brushing the teeth, gums, palate, and tongue consistently and sufficiently and flossing correctly, along with dietary awareness play a much larger role in defending against it."
If you decide to add this step to your routine, here are five mouthwashes Dr. Wilson recommends for gingivitis prevention.
Crest Pro-Health Multiprotection Rinse
Dr. Wilson recommends alcohol-free formulas such as this one from Crest Pro-Health. "Alcohol unnecessarily—and potentially harmfully—dries out the oral cavity," he tells us. "Dry mouth is not good for health or digestion."
Oxyfresh Lemon Mint Mouthwash
"The Oxyfresh rinse is particularly refreshing," says Dr. Wilson, adding that it contains aloe vera and a low concentration of chorine dioxide. Other ingredients include zinc to fight bacteria, as well as lemon and peppermint extracts.
Tom's of Maine Natural Wicked Fresh! Mouth Wash
If you prefer a vegan mouthwash, try this formula from Tom's of Maine (the brand doesn't test on animals or use any animal products). This mouthwash also contains zinc instead of fluoride.
Listerine Zero Clean Mint Mouthwash
Unlike traditional Listerine, this alcohol-free version will get your mouth feeling fresh and clean without the intense burning while you swish.
Listerine Naturals Antiseptic Mouthwash
Listerine Naturals is another one of Dr. Wilson's top picks. It's free of alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and dyes, and has a fresh herbal mint flavor.