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What You Need to Know About Mouthwash

There are claims the first instances of mouthwash use dates back to ancient cultures using ingredients such as charcoal, fruit, and dried flower. Later in history mouthwashes ranged from olive juice to vinegar until standard mouthwashes were produced in the 1800s, where alcohol was added to the formulation to kill germs and bacteria.

Yes, mouthwash has come a long way from the early days but there are still many who don't realize the benefits of adding it to your daily routine.

Should You Use Mouthwash?

Plain and simple, mouthwash kills bacteria within the mouth. Bacteria in the mouth is not only harmful to oral health, but can be harmful to your general health. This is one reason mouthwash should be used every day.

There are even newer formulas that provide additional benefits. For instance, some have the ability to help remove stains from the teeth, and reduce the risk of further staining allowing your teeth to look cleaner and more attractive. There are also mouthwashes specially formulated for sensitive mouths; protecting your health and your teeth without the burning and stinging that results from using harsher mouthwash formulations.

How To Properly Use Mouthwash

Questions people often have about mouthwash include how often it should be used, how to use it, and whether to use mouthwash before or after brushing.
Many dentists advise patients to use a mouthwash each time they brush their teeth. Some individuals brush once or twice every day, while others brush after every meal. Depending on your preferred approach, this means using a mouthwash one to three times per day. Whichever camp you fall in, we recommend using mouthwash prior to brushing your teeth. This approach will make brushing and flossing more effective.

You can use the product between brushings too. This will result in cleaner teeth and fresh breath. In these instances, you should not rinse. Mouthwash will be the most effective if it is used without rinsing.

When using mouthwash, gargle a cap full for 45 seconds or more to treat your teeth and protect your throat from harmful bacteria. If gargling is difficult for you, simply swish mouthwash around in your mouth.

Once you've finished using mouthwash brush and floss your teeth to complete a healthy routine.

How To Choose The Right Mouthwash

There is no one mouthwash that is equally appropriate for everyone. Many individuals have special oral care needs, or health issues that can affect their choices of mouthwash. If you have any questions about purchasing and using mouthwash, you should ask your dentist for advice.

The following is a list of ingredients to be aware of when shopping for a mouthwash:

  • Flouride. Dentists have been promoting fluoride as an essential part of oral care for decades. When you are reading the list of active ingredients on a mouthwash bottle, fluoride should be one of the ingredients. Fluoride can significantly decrease the risk of tooth decay. However, children should be supervised when using the product so they do not swallow it.
  • Cetylpyridinium chloride. There are numerous benefits to this ingredient. It eliminates bad breath, kills bacteria, and prevents plaque from forming on the teeth.
  • Alcohol. This known antiseptic has numerous benefits. It can reduce the risk of plaque and gum disease, and is an anti-bacterial agent. However, the American Dental Association advises smokers to avoid mouthwash containing alcohol. While alcohol is in many mouthwashes, it can increase the risk of oral cancer.
  • Essential oils. They provide anti-bacterial effects and freshen breath. The label may state the product contains Eucalyptol or menthol.
  • Hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria, reduces gingivitis and plaque, and whitens the teeth.
  • Detergents. They are listed on labels as sodium benzoate and sodium lauryl sulfate. A mouthwash containing detergents will make brushing the teeth more effective. The detergent will loosen the residue that has accumulated on the teeth so the residue can be brushed away.


The right mouthwash, when used correctly, can keep your gums and teeth healthy. It can eliminate bad breath, and keep your entire mouth feeling clean and fresh. Whether you use mouthwash before or after brushing, it is a habit you should develop every day.