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Patients Want to Know: Is It Necessary To Use Mouthwash?

Are you thinking of changing your oral hygiene routine and wondering is it necessary to use mouthwash? Can it really prevent tooth decay? Are there any benefits to adding mouthwash to my oral health regimen? At Stuart Curry Dentistry, we believe in educating our patients on the best oral health practices to help prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and dental issues that can negatively impact oral health. Here, you’ll find all the information you need to know to choose the right mouthwash based on your oral health needs.

Should I Use Mouthwash?

Different mouthwashes can provide different benefits. Some types of mouthwash will only function to freshen your breath, while others may have antibacterial qualities. Specific types of mouthwash that are prescribed by your dentist can help special conditions, such as periodontal disease or fungal infections.

Unfortunately, mouthwash can’t cure serious problems, such as gum disease, a dental abscess, or a cavity. Halitosis or persistent bad breath is often a sign of an underlying oral health issue, so see one of our dentists immediately, if you’re dealing with ongoing bad breath, even after brushing.

Finding the Right Type of Mouthwash

In general, you won’t find a mouthwash that can treat all oral health issues. Instead, determine your most pressing needs and the best mouthwash that can help with your oral health problem. For example, if you’re recovering from tooth extraction, choose a product that can help with the recovery process.

Keep in mind, mouthwash isn’t designed to replace regular visits to your dentist or the correct oral hygiene practices such as regular brushing and flossing. Think of using mouthwash as a complementary treatment that can enhance your oral health practices.

What’s In Mouthwash?

Here are some of the most common ingredients found in popular mouthwashes:


Fluoride is probably the most common and popular ingredient found in a variety of mouthwash products on the market. This ingredient can reduce the risks of cavities, tooth decay, and bacterial buildup.

Astringent Salt

Astringent salt is a type of deodorizer that can freshen breath and cover foul odor, temporarily.

Odor Neutralizer

This ingredient can help neutralize the cause of bad breath.

Bleaching Agents or Whiteners

Mouthwash that contains peroxide can help lift stains from the teeth and prevent stains from building up.


Some types of mouthwash will contain antimicrobials that are designed to eliminate bacteria in plaque buildup. It can also help treat gingivitis.

How Mouthwash Can Help

There are many main considerations in using mouthwash and choosing between the different types that are available.

Anti-Plaque Ingredients

Some mouth rinses offer plaque control functions that can prevent the buildup of plaque and may also contain antibacterial ingredients that can eliminate the bacteria found in plaque. If you have plaque you may want to speak with your dentist for suggestions on a mouthwash that can control it.

Sensitive Teeth and Gums

People with tooth sensitivity and overly sensitive gums can find certain types of mouthwash painful to use. Some mouthwashes contain gentle and natural ingredients such as aloe vera, green tea extracts, or chamomile. If you’re recovering from a dental procedure, such as tooth extraction, speak with your dentist and ask for recommendations on an all-natural mouthwash.

Mouthwash with Alcohol

This is an ingredient that’s commonly found in many types of mouthwash, due to its refreshing and antibacterial qualities. However, alcohol can produce a couple of issues. First, it can be a problem if swallowed, especially for young children. Next, alcohol can reduce saliva production, causing dry mouth. Fortunately, there are now many alcohol-free mouthwash products available.

When Should I Use Mouthwash?

Mouthwash can be used two to three times a day. Overuse can cause dry mouth or may irritate the sensitive tissues in the mouth. Typically, mouthwash should be used after you eat and/or right before bed and first thing in the morning, after you’ve brushed your teeth.

Before you purchase mouthwash, always check the label. Different kinds of mouthwash have different concentrations. Some types of mouthwash will require you to dilute them with water before use. If the label does not recommend diluting the mouthwash, doing so can prevent you from enjoying the full benefits of the product, especially if it’s an antibacterial mouthwash.

After use, avoid eating, drinking, and smoking, for twenty to thirty minutes. This will prevent any of the beneficial substances, such as fluoride, from being rinsed away.

Schedule an Appointment with Your Dentist Today

Mouthwash can provide additional benefits to your regular oral health routine, especially when it comes to preventing bacterial buildup or eliminating bad breath. However, using mouthwash should not replace regular visits to your dentist. Nobody knows your teeth better than your dentist at Stuart Curry Dentistry. If you want to start using mouthwash regularly, speak with one of our dentists to determine which type is best for you. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment if you’re experiencing any dental issues, or to schedule a cleaning or regular checkup.

If you enjoyed this article, check out these other articles about oral health:
How to Keep Your Teeth Healthy During the Holidays
5 Simple Dentist Anxiety Tips From Your Dentist