Mouthwash for Bad Breath

One of the most common reasons to use mouthwash is to get rid of bad breath. But how effective is mouthwash really at treating halitosis? What should you look for in a bad breath mouthwash? What are the best mouthwashes on the market? – Find out below!

The Benefits of Mouthwash for Bad Breath

It has been estimated that between 30% and 50% of the population suffer from bad breath, at least on occasion(1).

While there is a range of different causes of bad breath, scientists and dentists generally agree that the majority of bad breath problems stem from the mouth(2).

It is known that the most common cause of bad breath is oral bacteria that produce unpleasant odour while feeding on leftover food particles and sloughed oral skin cells(3).

An essential step in getting rid of bad breath is, therefore, to eliminate these bacteria, thus naturally freshening the breath.

Numerous studies have been carried out to test the efficacy of mouthwash for fighting halitosis, and they have demonstrated that it does work well in reducing oral malodour (4).

Bad breath mouthwashes, therefore, represent an effective way to counteract unpleasant-smelling breath in a very easy and practical way. In short, “halitosis can be successfully reduced via daily use of mouthrinses” (5).

What to Look for in a Bad Breath Mouthwash

The market is full of different mouthwashes, so the obvious question is: What differentiates one mouthwash from another?

Are some products more effective than others? What should you look out for when choosing a mouthwash for bad breath?

Therapeutic Vs Cosmetic

Most commonly-available mouthwashes fall into one of two categories; those that mask the unpleasant smell of halitosis (cosmetic), and those that specifically treat the root cause of the problem (therapeutic).

In many cases, cheaper mouthwashes are little more than mint-flavoured liquid, designed to cover unpleasant oral odours. For obvious reasons such mouthwashes, while effective in the short term, soon cease to work. Some studies suggest that these mouthwashes only offer effective protection for between half an hour and an hour. Therefore, with such a mouthwash, you’ll need to rinse more frequently for long-term protection.

Therapeutic mouthwashes, in contrast, aim to treat the cause of halitosis by eliminating the bacteria known to cause the majority of bad breath. In doing so, they offer far greater levels of protection.

One scientific study(6) examined a range of different mouthwashes. It concluded that within one to three hours of use “the anti-odour activity [of mouthwash] is due solely to its anti-microbial action”.

Some premium mouthwashes offer up to 12 hours of protection. That means that a twice-daily oral care regimen can offer around-the-clock protection.


Many popular mouthwashes use alcohol in an attempt to fight sulphur-producing bacteria. While there is some evidence to suggest that alcohol may have anti-bacterial properties, this is often negated by the more negative impacts of its use in mouthwash.

Firstly, alcohol is known to dry the mouth. That, in itself, is a common cause of bad breath. According to one study(7), xerostomia (dryness of the mouth) has the “potential to cause or enhance malodour”.

Secondly, there is some evidence to suggest a relationship between alcohol in mouthwash and the development of oral cancer. The study in question(8) stated that “it would be inadvisable to recommend the long-term use of alcohol-containing mouthwashes”.

Lastly, of course, some people find that the alcohol in their mouthwash can lead to unpleasant side-effects, such as swelling of the gums or soft tissues within the mouth.

Chemical Ingredients

A range of different ingredients can be included in bad breath mouthwashes. While some tend to be more beneficial than others, here are two to keep an eye out for:

Chlorine Dioxide

Chlorine dioxide is a compound which has been used around the world to safely disinfect drinking water. Little wonder then, that a number of studies have assessed its ability to fight bad breath in mouthwash.

One study showed that using a chlorine dioxide-containing mouthwash for just seven days can reduce morning breath. The same study(9) found that the compound was also effective in “reducing plaque, tongue coating accumulation and counts of bacteria in the saliva”.

Another(10) found that “chlorine dioxide mouthrinses can be effective in neutralisation of odourous sulphur compounds”. 


Toothpaste manufacturers have been adding fluoride to their products for decades. Fluoride is known to strengthen and protect the teeth, which then makes tooth decay far less likely.

Tooth decay is often linked to bad breath, as bacteria are able to gain hold. As a result, fluoride-containing mouthwashes can assist with protecting your mouth against future problems.

What is the Best Bad Breath Mouthwash?

UltraDEX’s award-winning range of oral care products include three different oral rinses, all highly effective against the problems of halitosis.

Our Daily Oral Rinses don’t just mask bad breath – they deal directly with the cause.

Our oral rinses effectively protect teeth and gums by killing the harmful bacteria which can cause tooth decay and bad breath. The anti-bacterial properties have been shown to offer 12-hour protection against oral malodour. As a result, when used twice daily, UltraDEX Daily Oral Rinse offers complete protection from concerns over halitosis.

All our mouthwashes for bad breath include chlorine dioxide for a superior clean, and fluoride to strengthen and protect teeth from decay.

The UltraDEX range is clinically proven to provide 12 hours of fresh breath.

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  • (1) Scully, C., Greenman, J. 2008. Halitosis (breath odour). Periodontology 2000 48(1), pp 66-75. Available at:
  • (2) Zalewska, A. et al. 2012. Halitosis – a common medical and social problem. A review on pathology, diagnosis and treatment. Acta Gastro-Enterologica Belgica 75(3), pp 300-309. Available at:
  • (3) Spielman, A et al. 1996. Halitosis: a common oral problem. The New York State Dental Journal 62(10), pp 36-42. Available at:
  • (4) Yaegaki, K et al. 2002. Tongue brushing and mouth rinsing as basic treatment measures for halitosis. International Dental Journal 52(1), pp 192-196. Available at:
  • (5) Steenberghe, D et al. 2001. Effect of different mouthrinses on morning breath. Journal of Periodontology 72(9), pp 1183-1191. Available at:
  • (6) Pitts, G et al. 1983. Mechanism of action of an antiseptic, anti-odor mouthwash. Journal of Dental Research 62(6), pp 738 – 742.
  • (7) Porter, S. 2006. Oral malodour (halitosis). BMJ 333(632). Available at:
  • (8) Farah, C et al. 2009. Mouthwashes. Australian Prescriber 32, pp 162 – 164. Available at:
  • (9) Shinada, K. et al. 2010. Effects of a mouthwash with chlorine dioxide on oral malodour and salivary bacteria: a randomized placebo-controlled 7-day trial. Trials 11(14). Available at:
  • (10) Fedorowicz, Z. et al. 2008. Mouthrinses for the treatment of halitosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 4. Available at: