A swish and gargle of mouthwash is a no-brainer after you’ve enjoyed that Italian sub or extra-large coffee. But should rinsing with mouthwash be a consistent part of your morning routine?

Let’s start with the ‘what’ and ‘how’ to understand the ‘why.’

Mouthwash, or “oral rinse,” contains antiseptic ingredients like alcohol, menthol, and eucalyptol that work on your teeth, gums, and tongue to kill harmful bacteria. Often used to combat bad breath, mouthwash is also great at reaching those areas your toothbrush can’t get to, which helps to reduce your risk of developing cavities and gum disease.

But using mouthwash is no substitute for brushing or flossing, the “dynamic duo” of oral care. The friction created with brushing and flossing helps remove bacteria, food debris, plaque, and acid, making both vital daily habits. That means if you’re brushing at least twice daily for two minutes and flossing once a day, mouthwash won’t likely have a major impact on your oral health.

While mouthwash shouldn’t be the star of your dental care routine, it can play a strong supporting role in killing the bacteria that causes gingivitis and improving stinky breath.

A few mouth-washing tips:

  • Rinse with mouthwash after flossing to help remove the food particles you’ve just loosened up.
  • Use the cap provided on your mouthwash to measure the right amount–about 3 to 5 teaspoons. While rinsing, gargle for 30 seconds, then spit the mouthwash out into the sink.
  • While the ADA says you can use mouthwash before or after brushing, waiting at least 30 minutes after you brush will help avoid rinsing off the cavity-fighting fluoride in your toothpaste.
  • Consider using mouthwash after a meal or snack when your toothbrush isn’t handy. A quick rinse can help kill bacteria and remove some food particles, preventing plaque and acid buildup in your mouth.
  • Because most mouthwashes contain high volumes of alcohol and fluoride, they should never be ingested in large quantities. The ADA does not recommend mouthwash for children under the age of 6.
  • If you’re using an oral rinse to try to cure chronic bad breath–or halitosis–mouthwash alone won’t address the root causes. Speak to your dentist about any potential oral health conditions that could be linked to your halitosis.

Questions about your oral health? Your team at CNS Dental is always here to help–be sure to talk to us at your next visit!