General Dentistry Question: Are Mouthwashes Recommended?

General Dentistry Fort Lauderdale, FL

In the world of general dentistry, there are a lot of dos and don’ts regarding oral hygiene. There are many rules on which the majority of dentists can agree. However, there are a handful on which there may be some discrepancy, such as regarding mouthwash. Is mouthwash really necessary, or does everyday use do more harm than good?

The general dentistry rule on mouthwash

Per most general dentists, mouthwash is a useful and effective tool for killing bad bacteria and banishing bad breath in the process. By using mouthwash, patients can reduce the amount of harmful bacteria in the mouth and, therefore, prevent plaque and tartar buildup. When used regularly, mouthwash may help to prevent periodontal disease, as most contain fluoride, a cavity-fighting, tooth-strengthening substance.

That said, mouthwash should never replace twice-daily brushing and flossing. Brushing and flossing are the recommended defense against harmful bacteria that cause cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Though mouthwash can kill some of the germs in the mouth, a toothbrush is needed to scrub the surface of the teeth to remove food debris, acid, and other harmful substances. Floss is also useful to reach into the nooks and crannies of the mouth to remove more stubborn particles.

Mouthwash is more like the kicker in a football game who comes in at the end to try to score the extra point on top of the six that the quarterback already scored through a touchdown. It is nice to have the extra point on a team’s side, but it is the six points that really make a difference.

Recommendations for mouthwash use

Some mouthwashes are more effective than others. There are also certain mouthwash routines that prove more beneficial than others. If individuals want to incorporate mouthwash into their daily oral hygiene routines, they should know which mouthwashes to use and how.

Recommended mouthwashes

Most general dentistry professionals advise patients to look for mouth rinses with the American Dental Association seal of approval. There are homemade alternatives individuals can use as well. Those include rinsing with saltwater, swishing with apple cider vinegar, and chewing cinnamon sticks. Also, drinking plenty of water can have an equivalent effect to mouthwash, minus the tingling feeling at the end.

Recommended mouthwash use

Most people swish with mouthwash immediately after brushing and flossing. Per general dentistry professionals, however, this may not be the most effective oral health habit. Ideally, individuals should wait 30 minutes after brushing before rinsing with a mouthwash. It is also a great practice to swish after flossing, as flossing releases food particles and bacteria back into the mouth. Finally, individuals should swish with mouthwash after eating lunch or snacking.


Mouthwash can be a helpful tool for maintaining optimal oral hygiene if it is used correctly to supplement a regular brushing and flossing routine. Talk to a general dentist about how to use mouthwash effectively and which may have the most benefit for your smile.

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