ADA clarifies benefits of rinses

May 25, 2007
Association affirms benefits of ADA-accepted antimicrobial mouth rinses and toothpastes, fluoride mouth rinse

For more than 75 years, the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance program has helped consumers make informed decisions about safe and effective oral care products. Certain toothpastes, toothbrushes, and floss are well-known products in the ADA Seal of Acceptance program.

Recently, the ADA's Council on Scientific Affairs highlighted the oral health benefits of other ADA-Accepted products such as antimicrobial mouth rinses and toothpastes that can help prevent and reduce plaque and gingivitis, and fluoride mouth rinses that can provide extra protection against tooth decay over that provided by fluoride toothpaste alone. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by the accumulation of plaque along the gum line.

It is important to note that the ADA's daily oral hygiene recommendations have not changed — people should still brush twice a day with an ADA-Accepted fluoride toothpaste; clean between their teeth daily with an ADA-Accepted floss or ADA-Accepted interdental cleaner; eat a balanced diet and limit between meal snacks; and visit their dentist regularly for professional cleanings and oral examinations. Director's note: I would have preferred that the ADA statement included dental hygienists!)

The ADA simply wants consumers to be aware of the additional oral health benefits provided by ADA-Accepted antimicrobial mouth rinses, toothpastes and fluoride mouth rinses.

Antimicrobial mouth rinses and toothpastes

Antimicrobial mouth rinses and toothpastes reduce the bacterial count and inhibit the bacterial activity in dental plaque that can cause gingivitis, an early, reversible form of periodontal (gum) disease. ADA-Accepted antimicrobial mouth rinses and toothpastes have substantiated these claims by demonstrating significant reductions in plaque and gingivitis.

Fluoride mouth rinses

Fluoride mouth rinses are used to help reduce and prevent tooth decay. Clinical studies have demonstrated that use of a fluoride mouth rinse in addition to fluoride toothpaste can provide extra protection against tooth decay over that provided by fluoride toothpaste alone. The use of fluoride mouth rinse is not recommended for children six years of age and younger because they may swallow the rinse. Consumers should always check the manufacturer's label for precautions and age recommendations and talk with their dentist about the use of fluoride mouth rinse.

"People may think cavities only impact children, but adults can get tooth decay, too," says Maria Lopez Howell, D.D.S., consumer advisor for the ADA. "Adults can also get gingivitis. If allowed to progress, gingivitis can lead to advanced gum disease, and that can lead to tooth loss."

A recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 27 percent of people age 65 and older experience complete tooth loss.

"It's important for people of all ages to follow good oral hygiene to keep their smiles healthy," Dr. Howell advises. She added that consumers should look for oral health care products that carry the ADA Seal of Acceptance—their assurance that the ADA Council on Scientific affairs has found that the product meets objective, scientific criteria for safety and effectiveness. The ADA requires products to display a statement on the package informing consumers why the product was awarded the ADA Seal.

According to a national public opinion survey, a majority of consumers recognize the American Dental Association's (ADA) Seal of Acceptance, and of those, 81 percent reported purchasing an oral hygiene product with the ADA Seal. For a list of products bearing the ADA Seal of Acceptance and descriptions of the various types of oral hygiene products available, visit