Mouth rinse: Antiviral and Antibacterial? What can it really do?

The main purpose of the mouth rinse is to loosen plaque and germs on and between the teeth. As mouth rinses are both antibacterial and antiviral, they help prevent inflammation in the mouth and complement optimal oral hygiene. In addition to gargling, regular brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and cleaning with dental floss or interdental brushes can prevent inflammation and tooth decay.


What goes into a mouth rinse, and how does it work?

There are large differences in the composition of mouth rinses. The classic mouth rinse is primarily used to loosen plaque and prevent new plaque from forming. This is achieved by adding various fluorides, which also provide preventive protection against tooth decay. Gum care mouth rinses, on the other hand, primarily help to relieve inflammation in the mouth. Here, the addition of special ingredients inhibits the spread of inflammation and soothes the gums. Medicated mouth rinses are another kind of mouth rinse; it usually contains chlorhexidine and can be used as a toothbrush substitute for a short period in high doses. You should know that this form of mouth rinse is only used in exceptional situations, such as after an operation or as a supplement to periodontitis treatment. 

The difference between a mouth rinse and a mouthwash

Is there any difference at all between a mouth rinse and the classic mouthwash? Definitely! The two products have almost no similarities in their function and should not be confused with each other. 

Mouth rinse

Mouth rinses are a product for oral hygiene. Depending on its composition, it can serve to clean teeth, reduce inflammation or remove germs. It is important to note that it is not just for good mouth odour. Also, many experts warn against using mouth rinses too often, especially if they are chlorhexidine-based, because in this case it is a medical product with possible side effects. 


Mouthwash is used purely to combat bad breath; it usually has no antibacterial effect and should not be confused with a mouth rinse under any circumstances. With the addition of menthol or peppermint extracts, the focus is clearly on fresh breath.

When is a mouth rinse useful

Depending on the type of mouth rinse, it is suitable for different applications. Normal mouth rinses with fluoride or low doses of chlorhexidine (0.06%) are primarily used for daily oral hygiene. They help clean the spaces between the teeth and prevent tooth decay and other inflammations in the oral space. Medicinal mouth rinses with high doses of chlorhexidine (0.2%) should only be used after consultation with a dentist and only for a short period of time. Depending on the problems you have, you will need the right mouth rinse and should always follow the correct dosage and treatment duration.

Medicated mouth rinse

Medicated mouth rinse usually contains high doses of chlorhexidine (0.2%). It can replace mechanical cleaning of the teeth over set periods of time, as it has been proven to fight plaque bacteria. However, this type of mouth rinse is only used in rare cases:

  • as a mouth rinse after an operation to support healing

  • when careful oral hygiene is not possible due to certain circumstances, for example in hospital 

  • if patients have physical or mental impairments that make regular mechanical tooth cleaning impossible 


Mouth rinse with or without alcohol?

The alcohol in mouth rinses has various functions. On the one hand, it is often used as a carrier and preservative for other ingredients, and on the other hand, it has a disinfecting effect. However, it is not really necessary. Alcohol-free mouth rinses are now available for children and adults and usually offer the same benefits as mouth rinses with alcohol.

Mouth rinse during pregnancy 

During pregnancy, thorough oral hygiene is recommended in particular, as hormones make the tissues softer and therefore more vulnerable to bacteria. Alcohol-free mouth rinses are also a good additional oral hygiene option during pregnancy. Since periodontitis in particular occurs frequently during pregnancy, prophylaxis with mouth rinses is considered very helpful. It is best to consult your dentist to find out which mouth rinse makes the most sense during pregnancy, so as not to compromise your pregnancy and still guarantee optimal oral hygiene. 

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