Mouthwash Through the Ages

Whether or not you’re an avid user of mouthwash, you’re probably curious about its origins. Did you know that oral rinses existed as early as 1 A.D., the era of ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt? If you encountered an archaic oral rinse today, it wouldn’t be recognizable as a dental formula.

In the earliest days of mouth rinses, people knew very little about what causes plaque and bad breath, so they used very potent ingredients to rinse out their mouths. These ingredients included urine, tortoise blood, goat milk, charcoal and so on. As centuries passed, civilizations switched to more palatable ingredients, such as olives, pomegranates, vinegar and cold water.

The 19th century witnessed the rise of modern oral care, when inventors created the bristled toothbrush, tubed toothpaste and, of course, a more effective mouthwash. During this time, developers incorporated alcohol into their formulas and created a mouthwash very similar to what we use today.

As scientific knowledge progressed, mouthwash recipes adopted bacteria-fighting ingredients, such as cetylpyridinium chloride, fluoride, sodium hexametephosphate and hydrogen peroxide. Nowadays, mouthwash comes in a variety of flavors and brands. Companies have also begun developing gentle mouthwashes to avoid irritating sensitive mouths.

Over the years, mouthwash split into two categories: cosmetic and therapeutic. Cosmetic mouthwash temporarily reduces bad breath and leaves a pleasant taste in the mouth. It doesn’t address the causes of bad breath, such as plaque, gingivitis or cavities. Therapeutic mouthwash fights the bacteria that otherwise stays on the surface of the teeth and causes plaque, tooth decay and bad breath.

Take advantage of the development of mouthwash by incorporating it into your oral care routine. If you’re unsure which type of mouthwash fits your needs, contact Hansen Dental Care at 626-793-2273. Our dentist, Dr. Robert E. Hansen Jr., DDS, is happy to provide a professional recommendation.

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