Meet the most misunderstood member of your tooth-care arsenal: mouthwash. Though most of us picture a quick swish and gargle as the optional finale to the daily tooth-brushing routine, it turns out that incorporating mouthwash regularly can ward off tooth decay, gingivitis and plaque, and, of course wipe out odor-causing bacteria. There’s a mouthwash that’s right for you and your particular dental needs. 

No Burning Sensation

This one fights the good fight without artificial colors or flavors, or alcohol (which means no stinging). It’s also certified vegan and kosher.

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If you hear “mouthwash” and think “ouch,” then it’s time to switch to an alcohol-free formula. These days there are plenty of products that get the job done when it comes to knocking out stinky breath and bacteria without that telltale alcohol sting—perfect for anyone with sensitive teeth or gums.

Lasts About Seven Weeks

This product fights tooth decay and has an American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

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Using mouthwash is particularly important for the parts of your mouth that your toothbrush can’t reach. (It’s like the difference between the basic car wash and the full detail.) Every time you swish, you reach 75% more of your mouth’s surface area, giving tooth decay, bacteria, and bad breath the boot. Another tip: After brushing, spill some mouthwash onto the brush and go over your chompers one more time. (Just make sure not to dip the brush directly into the bottle; you don’t want to unwittingly disperse the just-removed bacteria back into the mouthwash.)

Safe for Kids

This one doesn’t just fight bacteria and decay—it helps stave off future damage. It uses zinc ions instead of alcohol to fully eliminate halitosis.

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Remember to swish your mouthwash for at least 30 seconds, though a full minute is preferable. Unlike brushing your teeth, you only need to use your mouthwash once a day. A gentle formula free of parabens and alcohol will do the trick for children or those with sensitive teeth.