What’s the Best Mouthwash for Cavities?

What’s the Best Mouthwash for Cavities?

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH🔬 Evidence Based
What’s the Best Mouthwash for Cavities?

Besides brushing and flossing, there are other steps you can take each day to keep your smile healthy. Although nothing actually replaces physically cleaning your teeth with your toothbrush or favorite flossing aid, mouthwash can also be beneficial. Do you have specific types of dental concerns? Knowing the best mouthwash for cavities, for example, can help you statistically cut down on your risk of tooth decay. But not all types of mouth rinses are created equal!

Mouthwashes That Treats Cavities 

If you’re at a high risk of tooth decay or want to prevent a cavity from forming, choosing a fluoridated mouth rinse can help. Fluoride mouthwash (when used after brushing and flossing) can help to remineralize weak or decalcifying tooth enamel to halt the decay process.  Or if your cavities are due to dry mouth, a moisturizing mouthwash may be best. These differ from solutions designed for treating gum disease and gingivitis.

Types Of Mouthwashes  

Generally, you have four different types of mouthwash to choose from:

1. Mouthwash For Gum Disease Or Gingivitis.

This blend contains ingredients that fight off plaque and promote better gum health.

2. Whitening Mouthwash.

Peroxide blends of rinses help to keep everyday stains like coffee, tea, and other dark foods from accumulating on your teeth.

3. Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) Mouthwash

Moisturizing mouthwash lubricates your oral tissues to keep things moving.

4. Cavity Mouthwash

A mouth rinse that’s specifically made to combat tooth decay by strengthening enamel. It usually contains fluoride.

The Best Mouthwash For Cavities  

Using mouthwash for cavities can really help your everyday oral hygiene routine when it comes to combatting tooth decay. Why? Because when you’re rinsing with a liquid, it’s able to get all over your teeth, including spaces your toothbrush might not be reaching. Like in the grooves on your chewing surfaces or around braces. Plus, it sets there for some time afterward to keep working.

On top of that, cavity mouthwash contains ingredients that physically strengthen teeth and make it more resistant to new decay. If you’re applying it after you brush and floss, your clean enamel can basically soak up the fluoride as best as possible.

Even though you’re getting fluoride from your tap water, toothpaste, and everyday foods, a mouthwash designed for preventing tooth decay delivers just a slightly higher amount of fluoride all over your mouth. A great mouthwash is an essential part of your home care if you or your child are especially prone to repeat cavities.

Which mouthwash for cavities are the best? Here are some of the trusted brands that I personally recommend for friends and patients:

Act Fluoride

Act Fluoride rinse has always been the “go to” choice when it comes to a great mouthwash for people with a high risk of cavities. Especially kids, since it comes in flavors like bubble gum. Cavity prevention is the main thing it’s designed for. There aren’t any other bells and whistles like whitening. It does one thing, and it does it well.

Target Brand Fluoride 


Buying a store-brand fluoride mouthwash is totally fine and it can even help you to save a few bucks! I really like Target’s anti-cavity fluoride rinse since it strengthens teeth but also has a nice minty flavor to leave your breath feeling fresh.

Listerine® Total Care Mouthwash

Traditional Listerine (you know, the one that burns your mouth and comes in a big yellow bottle) was designed to combat gum disease. But the Total Care blend also helps to combat cavities, freshen breath, and remove stains. Additionally, it claims to contain double the fluoride of Act to make teeth 50% stronger.

Crest Pro-Health Advanced Mouthwash Alcohol-Free Multi-Protection

Say that five times fast! If you’re trying to lower your risk of cavities but for some reason need to use a mouthwash that doesn’t have alcohol in it, this particular blend of Crest rinse could be helpful. It combats dental plaque, which are the bacteria that eat away at enamel to cause cavities in the first place.

Tooth Decay Explained 

Tooth decay, cavities, and caries are all the same thing: a bacterial infection in your tooth. They’re caused by plaque byproducts (germ poop) and acids etching away at your enamel. Too much acid — whether it’s from our diet or poor oral hygiene — will lead to continued plaque buildup and physical weakening in our teeth.

The first stage of tooth decay is called “demineralization.” This phase is when the outermost layer of tooth is starting to get a cavity, but a hole hasn’t actually formed yet. A gradual etching is beginning to occur. If you’ve ever seen someone with white spots on their teeth after they haven’t brushed well, those are areas of demineralization. They’re really common in kids who don’t clean around their braces good enough (they look like white circles where their brackets used to be).

Cavities can be stopped if you take action during the demineralization stage. But not once the decay has actually eaten into the tooth itself.

The best mouthwash for cavities can’t “re-grow” your enamel to reverse a hole in your tooth, but it can remineralize weak enamel before a physical cavity breaks through it. Adding fluoride into your daily hygiene routine can halt and reverse early phases of tooth decay when it’s still in the demineralization stage. That’s why the best mouthwash for cavities — such as Act — will contain some type of fluoride.

How To Prevent Tooth Decay  

1) Floss daily. A lot of cavities form between the teeth, and if you’re not flossing each day then that’s about 40% of your tooth surfaces that aren’t getting cleaned. You may not even realize there’s a cavity there until your dentist takes an X-ray. If you can’t floss, consider getting a water flosser or some other type of interdental cleaner (your hygienist will be happy to show you.)

2) Use an electric toothbrush and brush for two minutes. Thorough tooth brushing, especially along the gumlines, is the best way to remove the bulk of cavity-causing plaque in your mouth. Brush for a minimum of two minutes, two times per day. Leftover plaque will harden into tartar, and by that point you can’t brush it off. Yes, manual toothbrushes do work as long as you use them properly. But an electric toothbrush will be way more effective at plaque removal in the long run.

3) Avoid frequent snacking and sipping. Every time you eat or drink anything (other than water) those natural food particles break down and produce about 30-minutes’ worth of acids on your teeth. If you’re chugging a sweet tea or diet soda every afternoon, it’s only a matter of time before it catches up with you. Sports drinks and coffee creamers are just as bad. But you drink fluoridated tap water as much as you want!

4) Ask your dental hygienist about sealants and fluoride treatments. During your checkups they can place protective coatings on your tooth’s chewing surfaces and paint a thick fluoride varnish over your enamel that’s stronger than the fluoride you’ll find in stores. In braces? Ask for a prescription fluoride gel to use at home each night before you go to bed.

Fluoride Mouthwash Side Effects

Fluoride is extremely safe. Just like calcium and other nutrients you absorb from the foods you eat, you need fluoride for strong teeth and bones. If you don’t have enough of it, your enamel can be extremely weak or even discolored.

And like everything else, it’s possible to get too much of a good thing. Excessive fluoride — just like other vitamins — can leave you with unwanted side effects. For example, if you ingest a lot of fluoride from swallowing toothpaste or having a kid drink a bottle of mouthwash, it can lead to major gastrointestinal issues and permanent discoloration in their un-developed teeth.

Always store fluoride mouthwash and toothpaste out of the reach of small children. And only have them use a fluoride mouthwash if they’re already able to rinse and spit well.

5 Tips For Fighting Off Cavities  

1) Brush With Fluoride Toothpaste

Everyday toothbrushing with a fluoride toothpaste is the most important thing to do for your teeth. Even though the fluoride levels are extremely low, it makes a big difference compared to toothpastes that don’t contain fluoride. You’re essentially giving your teeth two chances at mineral exposure each day, making it an ideal step in fighting off cavities. To make sure you’re using the appropriate dose, stick to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste each time you brush.

2) Rinse With Fluoride Mouthrinse  

Fluoride mouthrinse is one of the best things to use if you’re trying to avoid getting cavities. The fluoride in liquid form can coat all of your tooth surfaces after you’ve brushed and flossed for maximum impact. But not all “anti-cavity” mouthwash contains fluoride, so be sure to read the label. One of the best times to rinse is right before going to bed, so that the fluoride can sit on your teeth while you’re sleeping.

3) Limit Snacking And Fermentable Carbs  

Simple carbs like the ones you find in breads, crackers, or other processed foods tend to produce more plaque biofilm. Whole grains don’t. Try to go for complex carbs when you get a chance. On top of that, the more frequently you’re eating, the more often your teeth are being exposed to food and plaque. Eating less, more frequently can actually be worse on your enamel than eating more, less often.

4) Drink More Water 

Tap water, to be precise. It’s the only water you’ll find with regulated fluoride levels. When your mouth is hydrated, you’ll have less food debris, acids, and plaque. Regular sipping will keep your breath fresher but also lower your chances of getting cavities. As tempting as it can be to grab bottled water at the store, it’s better to use a refillable bottle and get H2O straight from the faucet.  

5) Talk to Your Dentist  

Your dentist knows which parts of your mouth are more at risk for cavities than others. They can also customize your oral hygiene plan to take steps to protect those surfaces before a cavity even has the chance to form. Such as prescribe a stronger fluoride gel to use at home, place a sealant on the tooth, or apply an in-office fluoride varnish that’s capable of treating your teeth for a few hours at a time.

Best Mouthwash For Cavities Recap 

When it comes to preventing tooth decay, the best mouthwash for cavities will be the ones that contain some type of fluoride. But you have to clean your teeth with a toothbrush and floss first, so that the fluoride can come into full contact with your enamel. If you have trouble picking the best mouthwash, you can always ask your hygienist or dentist. Your diet, everyday home care, and routine dental checkups play the biggest role when it comes to your risk of getting cavities.

 Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio BS, RDH"Teeth Talk Girl," is a registered dental hygienist. She started her dental health journey on YouTube, educating the public through videos.
Last updated onDecember 14, 2023Here is our process

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