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Mouthwash Dos and Don’ts

Many people love using mouthwash because of the fresh feeling it can leave in your mouth—and it just so happens to offer quite a few oral health benefits as well. Using mouthwash on a regular basis can help cut down on cavities, flush the mouth of harmful bacteria, and freshen breath temporarily. A few months back we talked about mouthwash, its benefits, and facts and myths surrounding mouthwash in this blog post. Now, here are some dos and don’ts when using mouthwash so you can be sure you are getting the most out of your mouthwash—great for teaching to your kids!

Don’t use it to replace brushing and flossing.

While dentists disagree as to whether mouthwash is a necessary step in the oral hygiene routine, they do agree on one thing: you should never use mouthwash as a substitute for brushing and flossing.

Don’t rely on it as a breath freshener.

Keep in mind that mouthwash isn’t meant to be a long-term solution to bad breath. It can help kill the bacteria that kill bad breath, but ultimately the best way to fight bad breath is to brush and floss regularly and drink plenty of water.

Do use a mouthwash without alcohol.

Alcohol dries out the mouth, which in turn can cause all sorts of oral health problems. A dry mouth is less able to flush out harmful sugars and acids from the mouth, and it also tends to harbor bad breath. Instead of using a mouthwash that contains alcohol, look for one that contains xylitol, which is known to prevent bacteria from metabolizing. Chlorine dioxide is another key ingredient to look for, as it kills bad breath causing volatile sulphur compounds. Whatever you choose, just be sure it’s alcohol-free.

Do look for ingredients that will target your specific needs.

Mouthwashes contain a variety of ingredients, each of which is going to target something different. Fluoride, for example, will reduce tooth decay and prevent cavities; antimicrobials will kill the bacteria that cause bad breath, plaque, and gingivitis; peroxide can help with surface tooth stains; and astringent salt can serve as a temporary deodorizer of the mouth. Talk with your dentist about your particular oral care needs, and look for a mouthwash that contains ingredients corresponding to those needs.

Do use according to directions.

It may sound like common sense, but if you want the mouthwash you use to be effective, be sure to use it according to package directions. This means swishing vigorously for the full suggested time, be it 30 seconds or a full minute. It’s also good technique to push (or pull) the mouthwash between your teeth as you swish.

Do use it before or after brushing and flossing.

Order here isn’t extremely important, so do whatever you find works best for you.

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