Glossary: Mouthwash

Antiseptic mouth rinse, often called mouthwash, is an oral hygiene product that claims to kill the germs that cause plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath. However, it is generally agreed that the use of mouthwash does not eliminate the need for brushing. Common use involves rinsing one's mouth with about 20 ml (2/3 oz) of mouthwash two times a day after brushing. The mouthwash is typically swished or gargled for about half a minute and then spit out. Active ingredients commercial brands of mouthwash can include thymol, eucalyptol, methyl salicylate, menthol, chlorhexidine gluconate, hydrogen peroxide and sometimes enzymes and calcium. Ingredients also include water, sweeteners such as sorbitol and Sodium saccharine, and a significant amount of alcohol (around 20%). Because of the alcohol content, it is possible to fail a breathalyzer test after rinsing one's mouth. Many newer brands are alcohol-free. A salt mouthwash is a homemade treatment for mouth infections and is made by dissolving a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water.

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