When Did Our Ancestors Begin Using Mouthwash?

The importance of great oral hygiene has existed for several millennia. Archeologists have found evidence of ancient chewing sticks, pastes and even oral rinses. The use of oral rinses in particular dates back as far as the first century.

Before people knew what really causes plaque and bad breath, they resorted to unconventional ingredients to swish around in their mouths. These ingredients included urine, tortoise blood, goat milk and charcoal—anything that people thought might clean their mouths. Over time, consumers switched to more palatable ingredients, such as olive juice and leaves, pomegranates and cold water.

Mouthwash as we know it today appeared in the 1800s, alongside toothpaste and the modern toothbrush. Developers began using alcohol to stabilize their formulas, as well as fight bacteria. Listerine, one of the more popular mouthwash brands, was created with this method. Mouthwash recipes eventually adopted more effective bacteria-fighting ingredients, such as cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC), fluoride, sodium hexametephosphate and hydrogen peroxide.

Over the years, companies have split mouthwash into two categories: cosmetic and therapeutic.

Cosmetic: 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: Therapeutic mouthwash fights the bacteria that otherwise stays on the surface of the teeth and causes plaque, tooth decay and bad breath.

Today, companies produce mouthwash in several styles and flavors, including gentler rinses for sensitive mouths. If you’re shopping for mouthwash in [city], [state], come to [practice_name] to receive a professional recommendation. Drs. [doctor_name] are happy to help you find a mouthwash that best fits your needs. You may contact [himher] at [phone]. We look forward to hearing from you!


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