Is Listerine the best

Mouthwash in the test

To supplement everyday oral hygiene and dental care, in addition to toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental floss, mouthwashes can also be used sensibly. You can find out when it is worth using the flushing solution, which brands are recommended and tips on correct use here.

What is a mouthwash?

It is a supplement to dental care. There are a number of different mixtures of mouthwashes that can have a dental effect or, above all, have a cosmetic effect. A good medical mouthwash protects against periodontal disease and tooth decay and prevents plaque from building up. In addition, rinsing gives you fresh breath. They are offered by different manufacturers. These include Sensodye Cool & Fresh, Listerine, Colgate Total and Meridol.

What are mouth rinses used for?

Numerous studies have now proven the effectiveness of medical mouthwashes. Depending on the recipe, they can protect against plaque, tooth decay and periodontal disease. They fight harmful microorganisms in the mouth, thus preventing tooth decay, plaque growth and inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). The effectiveness of medical mouthwashes for caries and gum prophylaxis has meanwhile been proven in a large number of studies.

What ingredients do mouthwashes contain?

The colorful solutions not only have to please consumers, they should also make sense from a dental perspective. In addition to the main component of water, many mouthwashes contain alcohol, which doctors view with skepticism. Alcohol has a disinfectant effect, but only from a concentration of 40 percent. However, they only contain five to 30 percent, so the added alcohol has no antibacterial benefit. Alcohol is also not absolutely necessary as a solvent for certain ingredients. In any case, mouthwashes containing alcohol are for:

  • Children,
  • Pregnant women,
  • chronically ill and
  • Unsuitable for people with alcohol problems.
Many mouthwashes contain anti-inflammatory substances such as essential oils. Some of the irrigation solutions also contain substances that reduce inflammation. Products with particularly high concentrations of ingredients such as essential oils, chlorhexidine, iodine, triclosan, fluoride or tin fluoride are considered medically effective and can usually only be obtained from pharmacies.


The use of medical products from the pharmacy should be discussed with the dentist, as they are not suitable for long-term use. Mouth rinses from the drugstore contain lower concentrations and can be used without hesitation.

What is the difference between cosmetic mouthwash and active ingredient-containing mouthwashes?

A mouthwash for cosmetic purposes is primarily intended to ensure fresh breath. It is available in concentrated form and is used diluted, which is why it is known as a mouthwash solution. They usually contain menthol or peppermint essences that mask bad smells. As soon as they have evaporated, however, the bad breath returns, which is mostly based on bacteria in the oral cavity.

Sustainable oral hygiene is therefore the actual basis for fresh breath and a healthy oral flora.

Mouthwashes against tooth decay

Just rinsing the mouth with tap water after eating helps to counteract the development of tooth decay. Two types of special mouthwashes have therefore been developed to increase this effect many times over. On the one hand, they can contain substances that loosen the dental plaque, on the other hand, fluorides can be added which, from an active ingredient content of 0.025%, specifically counteract the formation of new caries.

Mouthwashes for gum care

Mouthwashes that are explicitly intended to be used for gum care usually contain herbs that promote blood circulation and thus help strengthen the gums. Other herbs, but also allantoin or vitamin A, have a calming effect and relieve irritation symptoms.

This is a danger, as inflamed gums can appear healthy by relieving symptoms. If bleeding occurs, you should urgently go to the dentist with this problem, as the problem can develop into periodontal disease.

Which type of preparation should I choose?

Combination preparations have the advantage over monopreparations that several desired effects can be achieved with just one mouthwash. Although there is no evidence of additional side effects of a permanently combined use of active ingredients, this aspect should be considered in the long term. Therefore, if you want to proceed with caution, you can opt for a mouthwash that combats the most important problem. Ask your dentist for advice if you are unsure.

Who is the use of a medicated mouthwash suitable for?

In any case, one should not forget that for most people regular, mechanical teeth cleaning (toothbrush, dental floss, interdental brushes) to prevent toothache, bad breath and periodontal diseases is sufficient in many cases and regular mouthwashes can only have a supportive effect.

It can be helpful in certain situations, for example when there is no possibility to brush your teeth when you are out and about. It can also be used for immediate disinfection, e.g. after oral sex. If you like to eat sour, it is also advisable to use it immediately after consuming fruit and juices, as a toothbrush can damage the tooth enamel.

In special cases, however, the use of the medical mouthwash can be recommended in everyday life:

  • For wearers of fixed brackets
  • After periodontal treatment
  • When the tooth necks are exposed
  • For patients with disabilities or age-related restrictions who do not allow independent regular oral hygiene as described above

How is the mouthwash used?

After food residues and plaque have been removed by mechanical tooth cleaning with a toothbrush, a maximum of 70 percent of the surfaces are cleaned. Since the toothbrush only reaches the chewing and smooth surfaces, the spaces between the teeth and the tongue are not adequately cleaned even after brushing and offer good conditions for bacteria to multiply.


It should therefore be used immediately after brushing your teeth. In order for the rinsing solution to develop its full effect, you should move the liquid vigorously back and forth in your mouth for about 30 seconds to rinse the spaces between your teeth. Gargling removes bacteria in the back of the mouth and at the end of the tongue. Then it is spat out. Refrain from rinsing with water in order not to impair the long-term effect.

This does not have to be daily. Brushing twice a day and flossing the spaces between your teeth once a day is enough to keep the bacterial load at bay.

Why shouldn't you swallow the solution after rinsing?

Although it does not contain any dangerous or toxic ingredients, it should not be swallowed. If small amounts get into the stomach, this is harmless. However, in larger doses, the antiseptic ingredients can irritate the esophagus and stomach and cause side effects such as vomiting and diarrhea. Therefore, a warning is given on every bottle before swallowing.

Why are mouthwashes unsuitable for children?

Children under the age of six should not use mouthwash to avoid ingestion. The alcohol and other chemical substances contained can damage the offspring. Children under six are at risk of swallowing, so according to the pediatric dentist they are not allowed to use a mouthwash. Otherwise, the various medicinal substances can lead to the effects mentioned above.

Up to the age of about 12, parents should use a special mouthwash for children. Not only does it taste better for children, it also contains no alcohol.

Which is the best in the test?

In a study by Stiftung Warentest, 18 products were examined. Ten performed well or very well in the test. The experts determined the fluoride content, the type of fluoride and the pH value for the examination. The alcohol content and the concentration of some other chemicals were also determined.

The values ​​determined in the test stand for the effectiveness in the prevention of various diseases of the teeth and the periodontium, i.e. on the one hand the prophylaxis of caries and on the other hand the prevention of plaque and gingivitis. Products that are effective against tooth decay, for example, do not necessarily score well in the second prophylaxis sector. Here, too, the consumer has to decide which prophylaxis he wants and discuss with his dentist which mouth rinses are best for him.

Discount products can protect against tooth decay, all-round protection costs more

According to Stiftung Warentest, cheap mouthwashes can help prevent tooth decay. If you want more, you should use certain branded products. This time the Stiftung Warentest did not give an overall rating, but each mouthwash received marks for its preventive effect in terms of tooth decay, plaque and gingivitis. Six preparations received the grade "good" in both categories. A "very good" was only given for two products, but unfortunately not in both categories.

The Aldi product (at Aldi Nord Eurodont and Aldi Süd Friscodent) was rated "very good" in the fight against tooth decay, but only received a "satisfactory" rating for plaque and gingivitis prevention. The antiseptic drug Dynexan proactiv 0.2% was rated "very good" for plaque and gingivitis, but the testers were unable to determine any effect in preventing tooth decay.

Both Aldi and Dynexan mouthwashes can be useful for specific problems; the six consistently good products are recommended for all others. They protect teeth and gums all around. The dentist will advise which mouth rinse is the best individual prophylaxis for you.

Stiftung Warentest's verdict: The six best

The following six preparations have been certified by Stiftung Warentest to have a good preventive effect against tooth decay, plaque and gingivitis:

  • Chlorhexamed gum protection mouth rinse solution
  • Odol-med3 Extreme mouthwash
  • Meridol mouthwash solution
  • One Drop Only mouthwash Zx3
  • Sensodyne tooth rinsing solution for sensitive teeth (toothache with temperature changes)
  • Odol-med3 Junior Tooth Rinse

The mouthwashes Meridol, Perlodent, Listerine, Colgate Total, Elmex and Biorepair were not tested.

Would you like to learn more about the topic?

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Last update of this page on May 4th, 2021 by author Dr. Frank Seidel.

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