From The Experts: Our Hygenist, Candice, Answers Your Questions About Mouthwash

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED if mouthwash is actually a necessary part of your dental hygiene routine? If you’d like to use mouthwash as a part of your daily oral care, it’s important to know what it is and what it does.

What Purpose Does Mouthwash Serve?


We learn at a very early age that daily brushing and flossing are necessary habits to clean our teeth and care for our gums. But you may begin to wonder: “What more can mouthwash do for me?”

Mouthwashes are used for more reasons than you may realize, some of those being:

  • to freshen breath
  • help prevent or control tooth decay
  • reduce plaque
  • prevent or reduce gingivitis (the early stage of gum disease)
  • reduce the speed that tartar (hardened plaque) forms on the teeth

Candice Answers Some Commonly Asked Questions!

Our expert, Candice, is here to tell us all about mouthwash and how it can prove to be helpful in our daily oral hygiene routines!

Who should use a mouthwash on a regular basis?

Most people can benefit from the daily use of an oral rinse or mouthwash.  Which rinse you need will depend on your specific needs.  A dental health care professional can help you determine if you need an oral rinse and which rinse is best for you.

Are there different types of oral rinses that serve different purposes? If so, what are they and what purpose do they serve? 

There are many different types of oral rinses:  Antimicrobial or antiplaque rinses are used to prevent or aid in the removal of bacteria and plaque ad to control tartar buildup. I personally recommend Crest Pro Health or Listerine Alcohol Free on a regular basis for adult patients that can use a little help in preventing or maintaining gum disease.   I recommend alcohol free because alcohol can exacerbate dry mouth which increases the incidence of decay.  Anticavity rinses are used to remineralize teeth to prevent decay.  Act is a good brand to use in cavity prevention, especially for children over the age of six years.  Breath freshening rinses are used to freshen the breath.  These are used only to make the breath smell better for a short period of time.  Other rinses can be recommended by your dental health care professional for Xerostomia (dry mouth) and oral lesions or sores.

What conditions warrant a prescribed oral rinse?

There are several conditions that warrant the need for a prescribed oral rinse.  Rinses that contain Chlorhexidine are prescribed frequently to aid in maintaining gum disease.  Rinses for sores in the mouth or throat may contain Benzydamine.  Patients that have severe decay or dry mouth may need a prescription strength Fluoride rinse.

Should I brush, floss, or rinse first?

I recommend to brush, floss then rinse.  Brushing can push debris between the teeth.  Flossing will help to eliminate that debris and then the rinse will to remove the loose particles.  There are some cases when your dental health care professional may recommended a different sequence.

Do you recommend any home-made rinses?

I do sometimes recommend home-made oral rinses.  Patients that have ulcers, cancer sores or lesions in their mouth caused by trauma can use salt water rinse.   About 4 ounces of very warm water and a teaspoon of salt is all you need.  Rinse for 30 seconds to a minute several times a day.

Is there any side effects oral rinses?

There are some side effects to oral rinses.  Rinses containing alcohol can cause dry mouth, burning tissue or soreness.  They can also be intoxicating if an excessive amount is swallowed or used by children.  Rinses containing Fluoride can be toxic if swallowed excessively.  Some antimicrobial rinses can cause staining on the teeth.

Is there anything else needed when deciding which brand of oral to buy over the counter?

When buying an over the counter oral rinse suggested by your dental professional always check the bottle for the ADA seal of approval.  The ADA will only approve a rinse that has been through vigorous testing to be sure it treats the condition that it claims to treat.  ADA does not gain financially from the products they give their seal of approval.  The seal is always earned, research and clinical trials to back up their claims.

We’re Here To Help You Improve Your Oral Health Care Routine!

One of the most important things to remember is that rinsing your mouth with mouthwash does not replace daily brushing and flossing! Mouthwash is meant to act as an aid to brushing and flossing, helping to freshen breath and fight bacteria. If you have any more questions about mouthwash, let us know!

Thank you for your trust in our practice!

Image by jchwhite used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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