Mouthwash – Should You Be Using a Mouthwash?

Brushing and flossing are the most crucial elements of a home oral hygiene routine and should be your main focus. There are some cases where a mouthwash/mouthrinse can be helpful, however, and mouthwash has the benefit of reaching areas that might be missed by a toothbrush.

Types of mouthwash

The best type of mouthwash for you will depend on your needs. You should be aware that there are two main types of mouthwash: therapeutic and cosmetic. The latter type may be used to control bad breath and leave a pleasant taste behind, but as they don’t kill bacteria, they offer no health benefits.
Therapeutic mouthwashes can be available over-the-counter or by prescription, and can be used to treat a number of different conditions. 
Mouthwashes containing fluoride can be helpful for those who struggle with tooth decay, or who have braces and have a hard time reaching every part of their tooth with their toothbrush.
Antibacterial mouthwash can help disrupt bacteria, and help those with chronic gingivitis, but shouldn’t be used as a substitute for brushing and flossing—the bacteria will begin to return within 20 minutes. (For disturbing bacteria in hard-to-reach areas when your toothbrush isn’t available, sugar-free chewing gum (such as those with sorbitol) may be more effective.)
For those who suffer from dry mouth (xerostomia)—which can make teeth more prone to decay—some types of mouthrinse are specially formulated to help with this problem.
Some other conditions different kinds of therapeutic mouthwash has been created for include:

  • Plaque control
  • Bad breath
  • Dry socket
  • Topical pain relief
  • Teeth whitening

Is mouthwash right for you?

Before deciding to use a mouthwash, consult your dentist to see if one is recommended for your specific needs. An ADA-approved, over-the-counter mouthwash may be suggested, or in some cases, the dentist may suggest a prescription mouthrinse.
Whether to use the mouthwash before or after brushing, or if you should rinse with water between the two, can depend on the type of mouthwash; some can react to the chemicals in the toothpaste, making them less effective. Be sure to check before starting with a new mouthwash.