Finding the right mouthwash can be a bit of a minefield. With alcohol or without, for example. The general consensus is that the best mouthwashes are alcohol-free ones, simply because alcohol can have a drying effect, creating the perfect environment for bacteria.
Start by considering what you want from your mouthwash. Is your primary aim to freshen breath, reduce stains or soothe sensitive gums, for example?
Professor Paul Anderson, an expert in oral biology at Queen Mary University London and Hon. Secretary at the British Society of Oral and Dental Research, offers the following words of advice. “Over-the-counter mouthwashes should always assist in the protection and repair of the oral cavity, particularly the teeth. This can be achieved by looking for a mouthwash which can emulate some of the roles of saliva, which acts to protect and repair the oral cavity.
“Therefore, key things to consider are whether the mouthwash contains antibacterial agents, agents which protect against tooth mineral loss (such as fluoride, or a neutral pH) and agents which stimulate salivary flow (such as a minty taste), thereby encouraging the natural protection and repair function of saliva.”
How we tested
A lot of swilling, spitting and sniffing. A childhood addiction (we’re exaggerating, but only slightly) to sugary sweets meant our mouth was the perfect testing ground for mouthwash. We’re not saying we’ve lost any teeth or have serious dental issues, to be clear, but we’ve got a certain amount of sensitivity, and a keenness to minimise the damage caused by our former love of the sweet stuff, which is why we’ve always used mouthwashes.
For this piece, freshness was a major issue – we wanted a mouthwash that would provide all-day freshness, and wouldn’t leave our teeth with the grainy build-up some mouthwashes leave behind.
Any mouthwash which irritated our gums was a no-no, and although – for some reason – finding out exactly what’s in these liquids can be incredibly hard, key ingredients such as fluoride and anti-bacterial agents were a priority.
We initially approached this testing session thinking that we’d prefer clearer liquids, but the fact that some of our favourite ones were coloured (one was even black, but don’t write it off before you’ve read our glowing review), proved that colour shouldn’t necessarily be a deciding factor when it comes to finding the perfect mouthwash.
The best mouthwashes for 2022 are:
Best overall – Waken peppermint mouthwash: £4.50, Wakencare.com
Best for enamel protection – Oral-B gum and enamel care fresh mint mouthwash: £5, Boots.com
Best for sensitive teeth – Ben and Anna sensitive mouthwash: £10.95, Benandanna.uk
Best eco-friendly mouthwash – Nature’s Answer PerioBrite natural mouthwash: £8.50, Beautynaturals.com
Best for whitening – Oral-B 3D white luxe perfection mouthwash: £5, Boots.com
Best for bad breath – Colgate plax white+charcoal: £1.99, Superdrug.com
Best for protection against plaque – Colgate plax active sea salt: £3.50, Boots.com
Best value – Listerine cool mint: £2.50, Boots.com
Best for natural ingredients – Listerine naturals gum protect: £6, Boots.com
Best for gum protection – Corsodyl daily complete protection mouthwash: £5, Boots.com
Best for maintaining enamel – Sensodyne pronamel daily mouthwash: £4.50, Boots.com
Waken peppermint mouthwash
It was love at first sight with this mouthwash – a clear, minty liquid in a sleek, pastel-hued bottle which we’d happily display loud and proud. Sodium fluoride is used to help reduce the risk of cavities, alongside natural ingredients used for their ability to freshen and protect. While most mouthwashes scream “I’m concerned about oral hygiene”, this one says “I’ve got the coolest bathroom on the block.” The blurb on the back describes the liquid’s taste as delicious, which sounds like an odd choice of wording for something we’ll spit down the sink, but we also see their point – the taste is boldly minty without being artificial or overpowering.
Buy now £4.50, Wakencare.com
Oral-B gum and enamel care fresh mint mouthwash
Best: For enamel protection
A brand as big as Oral-B could easily rest on its laurels, but from where we’re standing, the impression is definitely that it’s one that continues to innovate without slacking on quality. This ultra-minty mouthwash – both the scent and taste packs a seriously minty punch – has a pale turquoise colour and left our mouth feeling incredibly fresh. Claims relating to perks such as enamel strengthening are hard to prove, as often these are lumped under the assurance of “clinically proven technology”, but the absence of nasties such as alcohol means that – at a minimum – any whitening capability is a potential added bonus to a product which works perfectly well as a regular mouthwash.
Buy now £5.00, Boots.com
Ben and Anna sensitive mouthwash
Best: For sensitive teeth
This glass-clear liquid had an ultra-minty taste which had none of the chemical tang associated with mouthwashes which rely more on artificial ingredients. The line-up here includes sea buckthorn (there’s no information listed about the benefits, other than that it’s a superfood, which is somewhat irrelevant given you’re not going to be swallowing this stuff), along with sage – a natural disinfectant – and aloe vera, which will help to protect gums from irritation. It’s a fresh, minty mouthwash which proves that all-natural ones can be fantastic options too, although we can’t help but feel the price is a little on the high side.
Buy now £10.95, Benandanna.uk
Nature’s Answer PerioBrite natural mouthwash
Best: Eco-friendly mouthwash
Another mouthwash with an all-natural line up of ingredients, the PerioBrite natural mouthwash comes with a lot of largely meaningless blurb in tow – we don’t mean this harshly, but what on earth is the “advanced botanical fingerprint technology” listed as a feature (no further information is provided). And we’re not sure what “holistically balanced” means in this situation, either. Organic lavender and peppermint are used for their soothing and cleansing properties, while folic acid, oregano and clove support gum health. The pale yellow liquid (and there’s no getting away from the fact it bears a certain resemblance to urine) has a herby taste that is by no means unpleasant, and which left our mouth feeling unexpectedly fresh.
Buy now £8.50, Beautynaturals.com
Oral-B 3D white luxe perfection mouthwash
Best: For whitening
This pale purple mouthwash smells quite strong, and we detected a hint of aniseed in its taste. It reminds us of the mouthwash our hygienist gives us after a session in the chair, which is no bad thing, to be clear. Whitening is another promise which is hard to prove, and as always, there’s frustratingly little information to back up the claims – that stains will be visibly lightened in seven days and that our teeth will be more resistant to staining in the future. We can’t say we noticed a dramatic difference, although we did feel our teeth looked slightly brighter – although not dramatically so – after seven days. As with other products which promise specific perks, we’d recommend this for anyone looking for a good mouthwash with the possibility of light stain removal.
Buy now £5.00, Boots.com
Colgate plax White+Charcoal
Best: For bad breath
First things first – this black (yes, you did read that correctly) liquid doesn’t (thank goodness) taste of charcoal, which is used here for its stain-busting abilities. Instead, we got a minty blast which left our mouth feeling wonderfully fresh. Colgate claims that something known as fresh FX technology (no further details of which are provided) delivers a cooler, fresher sensation for ten times as long as the standard mouthwash. To be honest, how this could be measured is beyond us, but it certainly left our mouth feeling fabulously fresh – even if the colour did provide a painful reminder of those black sambucas we downed during our university days.
Buy now £1.99, Superdrug.com
Colgate plax active sea salt
Best: For protection against plaque
Unexpectedly, the presence of sea salt was definitely evident in the taste, although not in an unpleasant way – somehow, the salty notes (and yes, we do realise we sound as though we’re describing a rather strange wine at this point) paired well with the dominant mintiness of this mouthwash, which had a pale blue hue. The sea salt, if you were wondering, apparently aids plaque protection, and without going into details, we think there’s something in this theory. As avid users of tepe brushes – the little wire brushes used to reduce plaque build-up between teeth – we felt the job became slightly easier after using this for several weeks.
Buy now £3.50, Boots.com
Listerine cool mint
After being raised on Listerine (not literally, to be clear, but in the sense that our parents used it when we were a child, so it was the mouthwash we used first, too), we eventually ended our relationship with the brand because of its love of alcohol – something which shouldn’t be added to the average mouthwash, due to its ability to dry the mouth area and create the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. We’re loving this reincarnation – the alcohol-free cool mint version offers a minty blast of freshness which helps to reduce plaque build-up, freshen breath and blitz bacteria , and that also left our mouth feeling fabulously clean.
Buy now £2.50, Boots.com
Listerine naturals gum protect
Best: For natural ingredients
A whopping 90 per cent of the ingredients in this mouthwash are of natural origin, and we’re loving the easy-on-the-eye appearance – a clear liquid in a clear bottle with grass-green elements. Its taste is mild but fresh – thanks partly to the addition of eucalyptol – and the antibacterial properties of essential oils provide some fantastic bacteria-busting, leaving us wondering why more big-name mouthwash brands don’t rely more on natural ingredients.
Buy now £6.00, Boots.com
Corsodyl daily complete protection mouthwash
Best: For gum protection
Corsodyl started out as a brand which specialised in gum care, and it’s now one which has evolved to cover all bases, although we’d still recommend this one as a fantastic option for anyone keen to treat their gums to a little extra TLC. Again, the eight distinct claims, which relate to everything from gum protection to enamel care, are hard to prove, but this is a mouthwash which is packed with ingredients known to improve oral hygiene, whether it’s zinc to freshen breath or fluoride to strengthen teeth.
Buy now £5.00, Boots.com
Sensodyne pronamel daily mouthwash
Best: For maintaining enamel
This mouthwash has a slightly thicker consistency than other mouthwashes, but only marginally. It’s got a fantastically fresh taste, and left our teeth feeling wonderfully smooth and free from any build-up. Unlike many mouthwashes, it didn’t irritate our sensitive gums, and left our mouth feeling surprisingly fresh hours after use.
Buy now £4.50, Boots.com
The verdict: Mouthwashes
Waken peppermint mouthwash is a fantastic example of a mouthwash that harnesses the power of natural ingredients, does a fantastic job and looks rather lovely on our bathroom shelf. Oral-B’s gum and enamel care fresh mint mouthwash left out mouth feeling fabulously fresh and didn’t irritate our sensitive gums and teeth in the slightest, while the Ben and Anna sensitive mouthwash is another great option for anyone with sensitive teeth and gums – and we loved both the bottle design and the minty, but not overpowering, taste.
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