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Mouthwash is an antiseptic-based rinse used to kill harmful bacteria in your mouth. While it can help kill oral bacteria, it is essential to understand the limitations of mouthwash.

Mouthwash cannot manually remove all plaque from your tooth, gum and tongue surfaces, and not all mouthwash can fight against gum disease or dental decay. Therefore, the use of mouthwash cannot replace the need to brush your teeth twice daily and floss once daily. Not all mouthwash is created equal. Some have better and more medicinal ingredients than others. Be sure to look for a mouthwash that is either approved by the CDA (Canadian Dental Association) or the ADA (American Dental Association.)

When to Use Mouthwash 

As stated above, mouthwash cannot remove all plaque from your teeth and gums. It can only help kill bacteria. Be sure to brush and floss your teeth first to remove as much bacteria manually as possible.

If you use a toothpaste containing fluoride, wait 30 minutes before using mouthwash to ensure the fluoride takes full effect. Also, be sure not to rinse your mouth with water after using toothpaste. After 30 minutes, you can use mouthwash. You don’t need to fill your mouth with mouthwash. A few teaspoons are enough if the liquid can access all tooth surfaces and tissues.

Swish the liquid back and forth fur the duration of the rinsing time. Be sure not to swallow any of it! Rinse the liquid for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then spit the contents into the sink.

You can use mouthwash as part of your morning or evening routine or in a pinch if you don’t have access to a toothbrush or have enough time to brush and floss your teeth. General guidelines are to use mouthwash once to twice per day and that it does not replace the need for brushing and flossing. 

Does Mouthwash Work?

Mouthwash helps as an antiseptic to help kill bacteria, but since it cannot remove bacteria colonies on your teeth or gums, it plays a small role in preventing gum disease. If the mouthwash contains fluoride as an active ingredient, it can help to prevent cavities. It may be that people who use mouthwash also take better care of their teeth, so it’s difficult to prove in a study that the simple use of mouthwash helps to prevent gum disease.  

Mouthwash Considerations

It is crucial to avoid swallowing mouthwash, particularly when it contains fluoride or alcohol. Alternatively, there are many brands of mouthwash that do not contain alcohol, which also helps reduce the “burning” sensation that we usually remember when we think about mouthwash. 

Children should be monitored while using mouthwash until they are trusted not to swallow– around 6. 

In short, mouthwash can be a supplemental aid to help with a complete oral hygiene routine, but it likely doesn’t help significantly prevent gum disease or gum inflammation. If the mouthwash contains fluoride, it can help with preventing cavities. Mouthwash works best when used in conjunction with adequate brushing and flossing. Please call us today to book an appointment if you have questions about mouthwash.