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Is Mouthwash Necessary?

An individual pouring Listerine into a small cup

Most people are consistent about brushing their teeth on a daily basis. But using a toothbrush isn’t enough to maintain a healthy smile. It’s also essential to include other habits in your dental routine, such as flossing and mouthwash. If you are looking for ways to protect your smile, then you might ask our dental team: is mouthwash necessary?

There are many benefits you can enjoy from using mouthwash on a daily basis. The best thing you can do is educate yourself about mouthwash and other dental habits so you are empowered to create the ideal dental routine that helps you maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Is it Really Necessary to Use Mouthwash?

The truth is that mouthwash isn’t necessary for your oral health in the same way that you need to be consistent about regular brushing.

It’s also important to keep in mind that mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing and flossing. If you are consistent about brushing twice a day and flossing once a day, then you probably won’t notice a big difference by also using mouthwash.

Even though it might be faster and simpler to rinse quickly with mouthwash instead of pulling out the toothbrush, mouthwash doesn’t offer the same cleaning benefits you can get from brushing and flossing.

Brushing and flossing are more effective than mouthwash because these dental habits involve direct contact with the surfaces of the teeth. The motion and friction of the toothbrush bristles on the teeth helps to remove plaque, bacteria, and acidic buildup that occurs from the things you are eating and drinking.

On the other hand, mouthwash helps to freshen the mouth, but it doesn’t include the same motion and contact on the teeth surfaces. So, you can’t remove the plaque and bacteria with mouthwash alone.

Most Effective: Mouthwash with Brushing and Flossing

With this understanding, keep in mind that mouthwash isn’t useless. Using mouthwash can be beneficial because it helps to kill cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth. As a result, it can contribute to healthier teeth and gums.

But if you are planning to use mouthwash as part of your oral health routine, make sure that it is always combined with brushing and flossing.

What are the Pros and Cons of Mouthwash

Learning about the pros and cons of mouthwash will help you decide: is mouthwash necessary?

Pros of mouthwash:

  • Freshen your Mouth: Using mouthwash creates a clean feeling, which can feel refreshing after a meal. You can have peace of mind to know that you aren’t offending other people with your bad breath.
  • Reduce Bacteria: Most mouthwash products contain alcohol or other bacteria-killing ingredients. When you use mouthwash, it helps to reduce or eliminate mouth bacteria, which means you are preventing an acidic environment that leads to tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Protection for Dental Conditions: If you have certain dental concerns, such as a higher risk of decay or gum disease, then adding mouthwash to your regular routine can be an extra step to prevent future issues. Your dentist might prescribe specialized mouthwash as part of your at-home treatment plan.

Cons of mouthwash:

  • Not a Replacement for Brushing: Some people mistakenly think that mouthwash is enough and they decrease their brushing. Even though mouthwash creates a freshening sensation, it doesn’t offer the same benefits you can get from brushing.
  • Causes Irritation: Mouthwashes with high levels of alcohol can cause irritation to the gums and soft tissue in the mouth. Is mouthwash with alcohol bad? Not necessarily. Just be careful about overusing it since highly concentrated amounts of alcohol can cause tissue irritation.
  • Burning Sensation: Sometimes, it might feel difficult to hold mouthwash in your mouth for tooth long because of the burning sensation. Is mouthwash supposed to burn? It’s common for a tingling or burning sensation to occur, but it shouldn’t be painful.
  • Not Safe for Consumption: Mouthwash should never be swallowed. Use caution to keep mouthwash away from children, because the ingredients in the mouthwash can be dangerous if accidentally consumed.

Best Practices for Using Mouthwash

When you are using mouthwash in the right way, it can be a beneficial habit to protect your smile. Here are a few best practices that our dental team recommends:

  • Don’t Rinse with Mouthwash After Brushing: If you are using a toothpaste that includes fluoride, then you don’t want to rinse with mouthwash right after brushing. Ideally, the fluoride from the toothpaste should remain on your teeth for a while after brushing. So, use mouthwash before brushing, or at least 30 minutes after brushing.
  • Pair Mouthwash with Flossing: One ideal habit is to use mouthwash immediately after flossing. For example, you might floss your teeth first to remove particles from between the teeth. Then, use mouthwash to rinse away anything that might be present and freshen your breath at the same time. Then, brush with fluoride toothpaste to finish your dental care routine.
  • Quick Freshening with Mouthwash After Meals: If you don’t have time to brush your teeth between meals, then mouthwash can be a great solution to freshen your breath after eating. Mouthwash can be a substitute for brushing during the day, as long as you are still maintaining a schedule to brush your teeth twice a day (usually in the morning and at night).

What is the Best Mouthwash?

When you are choosing what mouthwash is best, it’s important to consider your priorities and purpose for using this mouthwash. Most over-the-counter products are cosmetic. They help to mask bad breath and freshen the mouth. Or, you can use therapeutic mouthwashes that come from your dentist, which serve clinical purposes such as killing bacteria and providing protection through fluoride application.

What kind of mouthwash do dentists recommend? Look for products that have the “ADA Seal of Acceptance.” This seal means that the product has been reviewed by the American Dental Association and have been scientifically evaluated for efficacy.

If you need a mouthwash, then your dentist can provide the best products for your unique needs.

Ask Your Dentist: Is Mouthwash Necessary?

Is mouthwash safe and necessary? Often, this dental habit can be part of your daily routine to protect against cavities and gum disease. The best thing you can do is talk to our team about your unique needs, and we can provide recommendations for your personalized oral healthcare plan.

Our team at myDental is committed to helping you maintain a healthy smile that lasts for life. You are welcome to learn more about available dental services by scheduling a checkup and cleaning. We offer multiple locations for your convenience. Call any time for more information; we are always here to help!