A daily swish using some type of mouthwash rinse is a part of the daily health regimen of most individuals. Rinsing the mouth with a mixture of medicinal ingredients dates back to ancient times and was practiced by the Chinese, the Romans and the Greeks as part of their daily hygiene.
The earliest mouthwashes often contained salt, alum, olive oil or vinegar and was primarily used to help ease inflammation of the gums. It wasn't until the 17th century that scientist Anton van Leeuwenhoek discovered that deposits that formed on the teeth, now known as dental plaque, could be temporarily eliminated by crude mouthwashes that included vinegar or brandy. It wasn't until the 1960s that Danish professor Harald Loe proved that regular use of a chlorohexidine mouthwash could eliminate the problem of dental plaque build-up. Loe's ground-breaking research spawned an entire industry of mouthwash products claiming to help eliminate dental plaque, freshen bad breath and help heal gingivitis.
One of the first brands of mouthwash rinses on the marketplace was Listerine mouthwash, promoting no less than six immediate benefits to the daily usage of mouthwash. In addition to fighting plaque, using Listerine is said to also freshen an individual's breath, kill the germs that cause bad breath, prevent future tooth cavities, restore tooth enamel and strengthen overall teeth structure. Today the company markets six different mouthwash formulas, all addressing specific oral health care needs.
As medical and dental research has pointed more and more strongly to the direct correlation between mouth and dental health and the overall health of the body, more and more mouthwash brands have entered the marketplace. These included so-called magic mouthwashes, specific formulas compounded by a pharmacy and designed to treat infection, pain or inflammation. Magic mouthwashes use such ingredients as antifungal, antihistamines, anesthetics, and antacids.
Because virtually all of the commercially produced mouthwashes marketed today contain as much as 90 percent alcohol in addition to other chemicals, mouth wash should never be swallowed, but merely rinsed around the teeth, mouth and gums for a specified amount of time and spit out down the drain.
Many mouthwash users today, concerned with the increasing reliance on chemical additives and ingredients in their preparations, are opting to use so-called natural mouthwashes. Natural mouthwashes are formulas derived using plant-based ingredients, devoid of such dangerous chemicals as triclosan, parabens, sodium laurel sulfates, synthetic dyes and colors created using coal tars. Natural mouthwashes promote the use of plant-based oils for flavoring, such as peppermint, clove and menthol rather than chemically created flavors like wintergreen.
The use of natural essential oils as a carrier that helps the mouthwash's ingredients linger longer in the oral cavity rather than the use of alcohol is becoming increasingly popular in mouthwash production.
No matter whether the mouthwash dispenser in an individual's bathroom contains a commercially prepared or natural mouthwash, the scientific research is increasingly clear. A daily rinse with an effective mouthwash formula helps prevent dental decay and the build-up of dental plaque in the short term. In the long term, a healthy mouth aided by mouthwash may help prevent the onset of heart disease, diabetes, respiratory infections and arthritis.