Life and the process of living tends to work away at our appearances. Over time, our hair will turn grey (unless we turn to cosmetic aids to prevent this) and our teeth begin to discolour. Some foods and certain habits (such as smoking) can make this dental discolouration worse, but even the most scrupulous brusher and flosser will find their teeth turning anything from yellow to brown to even grey as they age. Whitening mouthwashes can help to counteract the ravages of time, and offer brighter teeth along with minty fresh breath.
How to Choose a Mouthwash
Study your teeth carefully and ascertain exactly why it is that you want to whiten them. Are your teeth in good condition and health, but just starting to show signs of discolouring? Are your teeth in a poor state, with cavities and plaque build-up and you can’t remember the last time you went to the dentist? Are you a smoker who intends to keep smoking during and after your whitening efforts? If the first applies to you, you are probably okay to choose the best whitening mouthwash that meets all your requirements, but even so, a chat with your dentist before using any product that might be hard on teeth is recommended. Teeth in need of a deep clean and maybe a filling or two should not be exposed to the harshness of any whitening product. Not only can bleaches further damage teeth, they are likely to cause severe pain if they are applied to unprotected enamel through cavities or cracks in the tooth. Smoking severely discolours and dries out teeth, making them deeply yellow and prone to cavities and brittleness. It is not recommended that any whitening product be used on teeth that are still being exposed to smoke and the chemicals produced by cigarettes, cigars or pipes. Not only will the bleach be ineffective, it will actually serve to soften the tooth surface, setting the nicotine discolouration deeper in the surface of the tooth.
Look for whitening mouthwashes that are recommended by dental authorities. In order to be effective, they should contain a bleaching agent and possibly a fine abrasive. The latter is to remove staining. The bleach, if peroxide, should not be in a damagingly high concentration, and any mouthwashes containing sugars or sweeteners should be avoided. Sugar reacts against tooth enamel, worsening cavities and aiding the growth of plaque. Some scientists, having discovered that sweeteners provoke the same response as sugar on the digestion, advocate that more research is needed into the long term effects of these artificial sugar substitutes. It is unknown what effect they have on teeth, and until more is known, they should be used with care.
Other factors to consider is the taste and ‘burn’ of the mouthwash, the current sensitivity of your teeth and the advantages of your chosen mouthwash: does it, for example, protect against plaque build-up as well as whitening the teeth and freshening the breath?
The Top 3 Whitening Mouthwashes
Listerine Stay White Arctic Mint Mouthwash
Johnson and Johnson’s well-known Listerine range can be found all over the world, and for good reason. This non-abrasive alcohol mouthwash is strong and powerfully minty, enabling users to have fresh breath confidence for hours after every meal. However, the ingredients include both sorbitol, sodium saccharin and sugar, the consumption of which should be monitored. The product works with just a few uses, seeming to add a pearly sparkle within a very short time, and comes with the trademark Listerine minty blast. This is the cheapest product, and one bottle is sure to last a long time, making it excellent value for money.
Listerine Advanced White Multi-Action Mouthwash Clean Mint
This is a step up from the previous product. Also non-abrasive, it offers the same minty punch as all Listerine products and is also alcohol based. While it also contains sugar and sweeteners, it offers to gently lift and remove stains, to strength teeth and maintain healthy gums. As with many products, it also provides protection from future staining.
UltraDex Daily Oral Rinse
Arguably the overall best whitening mouthwash, UltraDex’ non-alcoholic, non-abrasive mouthwash is gentle but effective, using sodium bicarbonate as its active whitening ingredient – a tried and trusted age-old remedy for stained or discoloured teeth. There is no sugar or sweetener in the product, which is nevertheless pleasant-tasting and powerful enough to imbue the user with minty-fresh breath for several hours after each use. It is more expensive than either of the Listerine products, but is kind to the mouth and effective at whitening teeth, freshening breath and helping to maintain good oral hygiene.
However, all these products work well to freshen breath and whiten teeth, and the one you choose will depend on your own personal preferences and tastes. Bear in mind that the whitening effect is a secondary benefit and, as such, will work neither quickly nor dramatically. This is actually a good thing as it means the bleaching agents are not harsh and potentially damaging to your teeth. Be prepared to make long-term changes to your oral care routines in order to reap the best from the products you use.