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If you use mouthwash, you understand the benefits a hygienic oral rinse provides for your mouth. Our ancestors had the same notion, although their methods differed in both knowledge and ingredients. Archeologists have found evidence of ancient oral rinses dating as far back as the first century, belonging to the Romans, Greeks, Egyptians and Chinese.

Before civilizations understood bacteria and its involvement in 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.

A more modern mouthwash appeared in the 1800s, alongside toothpaste and the bristled toothbrush. Developers used alcohol to fight bacteria and stabilize their formulas. 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.

Nowadays, mouthwash is available in a variety of flavors, brands and purposes. Companies have also begun developing gentle mouthwashes to avoid irritating sensitive mouths.

At Eli Lawrence, DDS, we highly recommend incorporating mouthwash into your dental routine, if you don’t already. If you’re shopping for mouthwash in Chicago, Illinois, stop by Eli Lawrence, DDS or contact Dr. Eli J. Lawrence at 312-236-9895. We are more than happy to provide you with a professional recommendation.