Listerine may be the best known over the counter antiseptic mouthwash. It has been marketed as an over the counter rinse since 1914. Most stores offer a generic formulation which uses the same active ingredient which are
Eucalyptol, menthol, methyl salicylate, and thymol. Listerine offers several flavor options. It is important to note that not all types of Listerine are antiseptic. The whitening Listerine is a cosmetic rinse and Listerine Total Care is a fluoride rinse, not an antiseptic. The new Listerine zero has not been studied thoroughly enough to be called an antiseptic. I spoke with a representative at a dental hygiene conference and was told that the alcohol is what activates the essential oils so without the alcohol the rinse is cosmetic.
Listerine Antiseptic Rinses
Listerine kills many but not all bacteria in 30 seconds. The antibacterial action does not continue after use. The flavors of Listerine that are antibacterial are
- Cool Mint
- Soft Mint, previously called Vanilla Mint
- Advanced Citrus with tartar control
- Advanced Arctic Mint with tartar control
Listerine Fluoride Rinses
- Total Care Zero Fresh Mint
- Total Care Fresh Mint
- Total Care Icy Mint
- Total Care Cinnamint
- Total Care Plus Whitening
- Listerine Smart Rinse (for kids, it stains plaque that was missed when brushing as well)
Listerine Alcohol Free and Cosmetic Rinses
- Zero Clean Mint
- Total Care Zero Fresh Mint (fluoride rinse)
- Whitening plus Restoring
- Whitening Vibrant White
- Whitening Prebrush Rinse
Plaque Disclosing Rinse
This is a method of staining the bacteria filled plaque. Once stained it is easy to be sure all plaque is removed during brushing. Disclosing is beneficial for children, patients with braces or anyone who may not be brushing as thoroughly as they should.
It is important to note that disclosing solutions such as Listerine Smart Rinse and Agent Cool Blue can alter the color or glossiness of tooth colored restorations. Use by children in clinical studies has shown a significant reduction in plaque9, showing that they do brush better when they can see what needs to be brushed off.
- Agent Cool Blue
The Science Behind Listerine Rinses
- Listerine is more effective than Crest Pro Health at killing bacteria.1
- Listerine has been show to reduce plaque better than swishing with water alone.2
- Listerine antiseptic rinse is safe for long-term use. Bacteria do not form resistance over time when you use Listerine on a daily basis.3
- Swishing with antiseptic Listerine for 60 once a day or 30 seconds twice a day are both effective regimens for controlling gingivitis.4
- A thirty second exposure to Listerine Antiseptic Rinse kills MRSA completely, significantly reduces Candida Albicans (yeast/thrush), 60% of HIV in saliva and kills many of the bacteria that cause cavities and periodontal disease.5
- Sustained antibacterial action for up to six hours after use (same as Crest ProHealth)10
- Listerine Zero with essential oils kills bad breath odors 6 and reduces bacteria levels more than other alcohol free mouth rinses.7Please note that this study was conducted by the company that makes Listerine. FDA approval as an antiseptic rinse has yet to be given, but that does not mean the study is inaccurate. FDA approval is a tedious process and more research may be needed for approval.
1Charles, Christine Ann, McGuire, James Anthony, Sharma, Naresh Chandra, Qaqish, James. Comparative efficacy of two daily use mouthrinses: randomized clinical trial using an experimental gingivitis model. Braz. oral res. vol.25 no.4 São Paulo July/Aug. 2011.
2Gordon, J. M., Lamster, I. B. and Seiger, M. C. (1985), Efficacy of Listerine antiseptic in inhibiting the development of plaque and gingivitis. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 12: 697–704. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-051X.1985.tb00941.x
3Ross NM, Charles CH, Dills SS. Long-term effects of Listerine antiseptic on dental plaque and gingivitis. J Clin Dent. 1989 Spring;1(4):92-5.
4Ross, N. M., Mankodi, S. M., Mostler, K. L., Charles, C. H. and Bartels, L. L. (1993), Effect of rinsing time on antiplaque-antigingivitis efficacy of listerine. Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 20: 279–281. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-051X.1993.tb00358.x
5Yamanaka A, Hirai K, Kato T, Naito Y, Okuda K, Toda S, Okuda K. Department of Microbiology, Tokyo Dental College, Japan. Efficacy of Listerine antiseptic against MRSA, Candida albicans and HIV. Bull Tokyo Dent Coll. 1994 Feb;35(1):23-6.
6D ILG, L. JUNKER, D. QUEIROZ, C.J. MORDAS, J.A. MCGUIRE, and D. RICCI-NITTEL. Johnson & Johnson Consumer & Personal Products Worldwide, Division of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc, Morris Plains, NJ. In vivo Efficacy of an Alcohol-free Essential Oil Containing Mouthrinse. IADR/AADR/CADR 85th General Session and Exhibition (March 21-24, 2007) New Orleans.
7T FOURRE, D. QUEIROZ, C.J. MORDAS, J.A. MCGUIRE, and D. ILG. Johnson & Johnson Consumer & Personal Products Worldwide, Division of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc, Morris Plains, NJ. In Vitro Efficacy of an Alcohol-free Essential Oil Containing Mouthrinse. IADR/AADR/CADR 85th General Session and Exhibition (March 21-24, 2007) New Orleans.
8F ABDELMEGID, Oral Biology, University of Nebraska, Lincolin, NE, D. COVEY, College of Dentistry, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, and F. SALAMA, Department of Growth and Development, University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE. Effects of disclosing rinses on the gloss/color of restorative materials. IADR/AADR/CADR 85th General Session and Exhibition (March 21-24, 2007) New Orleans.
9C.CHARLES, T. LISANTE, Q. ZHAO, J. QAQISH, M.C. LYNCH, C.R. GOYAL, and N. SHARMA. Two Efficacy Studies Of A Children’s Pre-Brush Plaque Tinting Mouthrinse. IADR/AADR/CADR 85th General Session and Exhibition (March 21-24, 2007) New Orleans.
10M.P.T. Otten, H.J. Busscher, H.C. van der Mei, F. Abbas, C.G. van Hoogmoed. Retention of Antimicrobial Activity in Plaque and Saliva following Mouthrinse Use in vivo. Caries Res 2010;44:459–464.