The Best Mouthwash for Bad Breath, Gingivitis & Teeth Whitening

Most mouthwashes fit into one of two categories. Some are designed to give you good breath temporarily, resulting in 30 minutes to an hour of minty freshness followed by several hours of breath that’s often worse than before you rinsed.

Others are formulated more like medicine, with a variety of ingredients that not only fight back against halitosis, but prevent the development of gum problems such as gingivitis.

Just like shampoo and deodorant, the best mouthwashes usually aren’t found on supermarket shelves. Instead, you’ll find the best mouthwashes for freshness and preventing bad breath in pharmacies, health stores and online.

Below, we’v listed the best mouthwashes on the market for long lasting fresh breath. All of the mouthwashes on our list are formulated to keep your mouth smelling and feeling fresh for hours at a time, helping you avoid the temporary freshness that’s common with supermarket washes.

Our mouthwash reviews cover factors like ingredients, smell and value for money to give you a complete understanding of which mouthwash is the best on the market. If you don’t want to read our full reviews, you can also jump straight to our top recommendations below:

  • If you’re looking for a dentist recommended mouthwash to stop bad breath and kill bad bacteria, we recommend TheraBreath Dentist Recommended Fresh Breath Oral Rinse, which is alcohol free, gluten free, vegan and kosher
  • If you’re looking for an affordable, alcohol-free mouthwash that won’t dry your mouth out, we recommend Oral Essentials Sugar & Alcohol Free Mouthwash, which costs less than $12 per 16 ounce container.
  • If you’re looking for a fluoride mouthwash that will strengthen your teeth while preventing bad breath, we recommend ACT Alcohol Free Anticavity Fluoride Rinse, which costs less than $10 per 18 ounce container.
  • If you’re looking for a whitening mouthwash that will brighten your teeth, we recommend Crest 3D White Luxe Mouthwash, which includes Crest’s Whitelock ingredient profile to strip away stains that darken your teeth.
  • If you just want a mouthwash that will freshen up your breath in the morning or before an important date, we recommend Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash, which is inexpensive, smells great and does a good job of stopping bad breath in the short term.
  • Finally, if you need a mouthwash to prevent dry mouth, we recommend Biotene Oral Rinse, which is formulated specifically to moisturize your mouth and prevent the odors associated with dry mouth.

The One Mouthwash Ingredient You Should Avoid:

Just like shampoo, deodorant and other hygiene products, most mouthwashes are packed full of ingredients that provide short term benefits at the cost of long-term wellness.

While we won’t get into the exact science of mouthwash ingredients, there is one ingredient that you should be aware of. This substance dries out your mouth and can end up giving you breath that’s worse than before you used the mouthwash.

That ingredient, as you might have guessed, is alcohol. Mouthwashes that contain alcohol will get rid of bad breath in the short term by killing bacteria. However, alcohol will also dry out your mouth and disrupt the delicate acid/base pH balance in your saliva.

This means that while alcohol-based mouthwashes will give you good breath in the short term, they’re not a good long-term option for dealing with bad breath.

For our list of the best mouthwashes, we’ve focused on mouthwashes that are free of alcohol, since these products produce the best long-term effects. We’ve also included a few “regular” mouthwashes on our list, albeit with disclaimers about their alcohol content.

Best Mouthwash Options

TheraBreath Dentist Recommended Fresh Breath Oral Rinse

our pick for the best mouthwash

Of all the mouthwashes we’ve seen, this one from TheraBreath is our favorite. It contains no alcohol, making it ideal for long-term freshness. It’s also 100% gluten free, kosher and vegan, making it something that anyone, regardless of religion or allergies, can use.

This mouthwash is formulated using natural ingredients. There’s no CPC, triclosan, artificial flavors, dyes or sulfates. This means that it doesn’t dry out your mouth and leave you feeling uncomfortable, as most alcohol or chemical-filled mouthwashes can.

TheraBreath have designed this mouthwash to have a buffered pH, which means it reduces acidity in the mouth. This means it prevents annoyances like tooth sensitivity and erosion of enamel, improving your overall dental health.  

Because this mouthwash contains no alcohol, there’s no stinging or burning feeling when you use it to rinse your mouth. The mint flavor has a noticeable kick to it, but it’s nothing like most alcohol-filled mouthwashes.

This might make this mouthwash sound weak, but you’ll be surprised by how fresh your mouth and gums will feel after applying it. The real strength of this mouthwash is the fact that it gives you fresh, clean breath for hours after using it instead of the usual 30-60 minutes of freshness.

If you’re looking for a mouthwash that’s alcohol free, extremely effective and designed for both fresh breath and gum and tooth health, TheraBreath Dentist Recommended Fresh Breath Oral Rinse is our top recommendation.

Click here to check the current price for TheraBreath Dentist Recommended Fresh Breath Oral Rinse on Amazon.

Oral Essentials Sugar & Alcohol Free Mouthwash

best sugar and alcohol free mouthwash

Another alcohol free mouthwash, Oral Essentials Mouthwash is also 100% sugar free, making it a great option for preventing tooth decay. Like the TheraBreath mouthwash, this mouthwash has no dyes, preservatives, BPAs or other harmful ingredients.

Instead, it uses a variety of natural ingredients such as Dead Sea salt, aloe vera juice, essential oils and non-GMO xylitol to prevent bad breath and freshen your mouth. This means it doesn’t have the “kick” of an alcohol-based mouthwash but still provides lasting effects.

Oral Essentials suggests customers should call this mouthwash a “mouth moisturizer,” which is fairly accurate given its contents. This mouthwash will rinse and soften your gums just as much as it will freshen your breath, making it great from an oral hygiene perspective.

From a taste perspective, this mouthwash is fairly mild. Despite the use of salt in the formula, it doesn’t feel at all salty and has a fairly pleasant, albeit not fantastic, taste. If you’re used to the taste of an alcohol-based mouthwash, it’ll take a couple of rinses to adjust to this.

From a freshness perspective, this mouthwash works very well. It doesn’t provide the massive amount of immediate freshness as Listerine — instead, it has a subtle effect that lasts for hours instead of the usual 30 to 60 minutes you’d get from an alcohol-based mouthwash.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the TheraBreath mouthwash above, this is a great buy. It smells great, has none of the stinging sensation of alcohol-heavy mouthwashes and provides lasting freshness and gum health effects.

Click here to check the current price for Oral Essentials Sugar & Alcohol Free Mouthwash on Amazon.

ACT Alcohol Free Anticavity Fluoride Rinse

good anti-cavity and decay mouthwash

Another alcohol free mouthwash, ACT Alcohol Free Anticavity Fluoride Rinse is backed up by a variety of recommendations from doctors and dentists. This mouthwash not only fights against bad breath — it also improves gum health, reduces calories and reverses white spots on teeth.

In short, this is an all-in-one mouthwash that’s designed to handle every aspect of your dental hygiene. It has a large natural formula, with a .05% sodium fluoride content to prevent cavities and tooth decay.

Because of the alcohol free formula, this mouthwash feels smooth and pleasant. There’s none of the burning sensation that you’d typically get from a cheap mouthwash, and the minty flavor provides fresh breath that lasts for several hours.

ACT also makes this mouthwash in cinnamon and bubblegum, both of which taste surprisingly good. We think the mint flavor offers the best combination of overall taste and smell; the others taste good but have a slightly unnatural scent.

Because of the formula used for this mouthwash, it’s ideal for repairing white spots on your teeth that can appear over time. Most users find that it takes about 30 days to see a real improvement in the appearance and sensitivity of your teeth.

If you’re looking for a mouthwash that’s free of alcohol and designed for optimal teeth and gum health, ACT Alcohol Free Anticavity Fluoride Rinse is a great buy. Add in the fact that is costs less than $10 per 18 ounces and it’s hard to think of a better combination of price and quality.

Click here to check the current price for ACT Alcohol Free Anticavity Fluoride Rinse on Amazon.

Crest 3D White Luxe Mouthwash

best teeth whitening mouthwash

If you’re looking for a whitening mouthwash, you’ll like Crest 3D White Luxe Mouthwash. This mouthwash has an alcohol-free formula that includes hydrogen peroxide, helping it strip away stains that can darken and yellow your teeth.

Crest designs this mouthwash with a triple-action formula, allowing it to prevent stains, whiten teeth and freshen your breath at the same time. The formula isn’t quite as a chemical-free as the mouthwashes listed above but is still far better than most supermarket mouthwashes.

From a whitening perspective, this mouthwash works very well. It has a noticeable effect on the color and brightness of your teeth that starts to show after 30 to 45 days of use. If you’re looking for a strong whitening effects, it’s best to use this mouthwash as well as whitening strips.

From a freshness perspective, this mouthwash gets a good score. It has a mint flavor and scent that doesn’t taste overly strong but provides plenty of freshness. One use of this mouthwash is normally enough to provide two to three hours of fresh, clean and odor-free breath.

Because this is a whitening mouthwash, there’s a possibility that it can have some effect on the sensitivity of your teeth. While it’s safe to use every day, it’s best to water down the mouthwash slightly if you feel your teeth becoming overly sensitive after rinsing with it.

If you’re looking for whiter, brighter teeth and prefer a mouthwash to laser whitening treatments or whitening strips, Crest 3D White Luxe Mouthwash is a good buy. Priced at just over $20 for a pack of three 946 mL bottles, it’s one of the most affordable whitening mouthwashes available.

Click here to check the current price for Crest 3D White Luxe Mouthwash on Amazon.

Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash

best quick acting and cheap mouthwash

While Listerine is undoubtedly the world’s most popular mouthwash, we’re not convinced that it’s the best. Listerine is ideal for freshening your mouth up and blocking bad breath for a short time, but its alcohol-based formula makes it subar for long-term freshness.

Before we get into the downsides of Listerine, let’s focus on the benefits. Listerine definitely has a fresh, pleasant odor, and you’ll completely wipe out bad breath for about an hour after you use it. If you need to smell fresh for a date or meeting, it’s a good choice.

It’s also ideal for killing the bad bacteria that live in your gums and around your teeth. If you’re worried about bacteria causing gingivitis, Listerine is a cheap and simple solution that will keep you healthy and protected.

Now, let’s cover the disadvantages of Listerine. This is an alcohol-based mouthwash, meaning it has a noticeable stinging effect on your gums. This isn’t a particularly big deal, but compared to some of the non-alcohol mouthwashes we’ve reviewed, Listerine can feel a little harsh.

Since it contains alcohol, Listerine also doesn’t provide lasting bad breath elimination. Expect to get an hour of use from this mouthwash (or up to two, assuming you drink plenty of water), with  bad breath returning once the mouthwash wears off.

If you need an hour or two of freshness and don’t mind the slight burn of the alcohol content, it’s hard to say no to Listerine — after all, it’s popular for a reason. Just don’t expect it to prevent bad breath for an entire day.

Click here to check the current price for Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash on Amazon.

Biotene Oral Rinse

best mouthwash if you have a dry mouth

If you have dry mouth, Biotene Oral Rinse is a great mouthwash for keeping your gums soft and moisturized. This mouthwash actively prevents the symptoms of dry mouth, helping you to avoid the bad breath and discomfort that xerostomia can cause.

As you’d expect for an anti-dry mouth product, this mouthwash doesn’t contain any alcohol. It’s not a natural mouthwash by any means, but its ingredient profile makes it pleasant to apply and prevents any of the burning or stinging that’s common with alcohol-based mouthwashes.

Since this mouthwash uses the LP3 salivary enzyme-protein system, it essentials works as an artificial replacement for your natural saliva that keeps your gums and tongue soft. The taste is slightly unnatural but something you’ll get used to fairly quickly.  

This rinse provides three to four hours of relief from dry mouth, meaning you’ll need to rinse with it several times a day. The 33 ounce bottle is an annoyance to carry, so we recommend picking up a small flask or bottle if you need to carry it with you to school or work.

All in all, if you suffer from dry mouth and need an effective mouthwash that prevents bad breath and other related health issues, Biotene Oral Rinse is a good choice. At just over $10 per bottle, it’s cheap enough to use every day without putting a dent in your monthly budget.

Click here to check the current price for Biotene Oral Rinse on Amazon.

The Best Mouthwash: Quick Recap

If you’re looking for a high quality, alcohol free mouthwash, you’ll get great results from any of the first three items on our list: the TheraBreath Dentist Recommended Fresh Breath Oral Rinse, Oral Essentials Mouthwash or the ACT Alcohol Free Anticavity Fluoride Rinse.

If you don’t mind alcohol in your mouthwash, you’ll also get a good level of freshness from old fashioned products like Listerine.

Do you have a favorite brand of mouthwash that isn’t on our list? From alcohol-free formulas to traditional antiseptic mouthwashes, we’re always interested in finding and testing new products that enhance your life.

Let us know the brand and product name of your favorite mouthwash in the comments and we’ll add it to our “to review” list for a future product roundup or buyer’s guide.

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