Should I Use Mouthwash? Dos and Don’ts of Using Mouthwash

mouthwash dos and donts

Perhaps you’ve got a great routine down with brushing and flossing, but your dentist recommended you do a bit more at your last teeth cleaning exam. You may be considering adding mouthwash to your oral care. Here’s what you need to know about oral rinses and mouthwash.

Dos and Don’ts of Using Mouthwash

Mouthwash–sometimes called an oral rinse–is a liquid you swish in your mouth and spit out when you’re done. There are many types of mouthwash that all tout different benefits, but even a basic minty mouthwash can add some great benefits to your oral care routine.

If you’re not sure what kind of mouthwash you should be using or what benefits you personally can gain from using a mouthwash, ask you dentist. They’ll know your oral history and the particular issues that using a specific kind of mouthwash can help you address.

But if it will be several months before your next visit, here are some general questions to ask when choosing your mouthwash.

Do you really need to rinse? 

Rinsing with mouthwash is a great way to up your oral hygiene game. It is not a replacement for brushing and flossing, but it can help freshen your breath, loosen and wash away that last bit of plaque and bacteria and even strengthen your teeth.

So yes! Rinsing is a good addition to your routine, but shouldn’t take the place of good basic care like brushing and flossing.

What are you hoping to gain by using a mouthwash? 

If you’re only looking to promote fresh breath, you may want to choose a different mouthwash than if you’re hoping to combat gingivitis. Since there are many types of mouthwash on the market (and even a few your dentist can prescribe), you can almost certainly find the exact mouthwash that you both like and provides the benefits you want.

When do you plan to use mouthwash? 

Fluoride mouthwashes, in particular, should be used during a time of day when you can spare at least 30 minutes afterward. You shouldn’t drink or eat right after using a fluoride mouthwash, so it might be best to carve out some time in the middle or end of the day, rather than trying to rinse right away in the morning.

A mouthwash used to target gingivitis should be used in tandem with flossing, so using it morning and night when you floss will be important. Mouthwashes designed to help with teeth whitening typically work best at night if you rinse just before bed.

In other words, the time of day you should use mouthwash should align with the mouthwash’s purpose and intended use.

Mouthwash Dos and Don’ts

If you’re new to mouthwash, or it’s been some time since you’ve used it, here are a few easy dos and don’ts.

DO use the recommended amount of oral rinse in the instructions. 

You can often use the cup or lid that the mouthwash comes with, but if you prefer to use your own cup or measuring cup, the recommended amount is typically only 4-5 teaspoons.

DO read the instructions

Most mouthwashes and oral rinses will recommend that you rinse for 30-60 seconds, but every mouthwash is different and might have a different set of directions. Read them carefully before using!

DON’T swallow your mouthwash

Ever. This is a bad idea all around. Mouthwashes are meant for rinsing only and should not be swallowed. If you accidentally ingest a tiny amount, it will probably be okay, but more than that can be harmful. Check any warnings or instructions on the bottle if you happen to swallow your mouthwash.

DO use after brushing and flossing

Brush and floss first, then rinse with mouthwash. This will make sure that most bacteria is removed from the mouth and that the mouthwash can easily wash away any remaining plaque, particles or bacteria.

And that’s about it! If you’re still unsure about your mouthwash or the best way to use it, take it with you to your next dental check up. Your dental hygienist and dentist can help you learn the best way to use your mouthwash.

Remember: The above information is to be used as general guidelines and you should not use this information to diagnose yourself. If you are concerned about your teeth, you should contact our Clintonville, Ohio dentists for a thorough dental exam.

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