Do You Really Need Mouthwash?

It might be tempting to forego using mouthwash in favor of cutting down on mouth cleaning time and saving a couple bucks on dental hygiene products every month or so, but mouthwash does carry with it some benefits that you may not want to miss out on. So while using mouthwash still does come secondary to brushing and flossing, and there isn’t yet evidence that proves that it’s central to oral health as brushing and flossing are, here are some of the biggest reasons that it’s a good idea to include mouthwash in your oral hygiene routine.

It can help prevent cavities and tooth decay.

When you use a fluoride mouthwash along with regular brushing and flossing, you increase your chances of fighting tooth decay.

It can dislodge food particles.

Swishing water or mouthwash in your mouth is great for helping remove food particles. To enjoy this benefit of mouthwash, you can use it before or after brushing your teeth. Just keep in mind that if you’re going to use mouthwash before brush, the mouthwash will likely miss spots where you haven’t yet brushed away plaque and bacteria.

It can prevent plaque formation.

Mouthwash won’t do much to get rid of already existing plaque, but it does help keep plaque from forming in the first place. Be sure to brush effectively to remove existing plaque—and to have your dentist check your teeth for plaque regularly—and then use mouthwash to help make plaque maintenance even easier.

It ups your oral hygiene game.

If you’re only brushing and flossing daily, then your oral hygiene likely isn’t as strong as it could be. The benefits of mouthwash that we’ve just examined show that mouthwash truly can boost the health of your teeth, plus the health of your mouth overall.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when using mouthwash:

  • You’ll be safer going with an alcohol-free mouthwash. Alcohol dries out your mouth, and a dry mouth is more prone to sensitive teeth, cavities, and bad breath. You can even get mouthwashes meant for replenishing moisture when you have a dry mouth.

  • Use mouthwash after brushing and flossing—not before. Mouthwash isn’t very effective at penetrating plaque or bacteria build-up, so if it’s going to have a positive effect on your teeth, it’s after you get the plaque and bacteria off of your teeth.
  • Never use mouthwash as a substitute for brushing and flossing. If for some reason you’re in a crunch and need to cut a step out somewhere, mouthwash is really the step to skip. Think of mouthwash as a complement to a strong oral hygiene routine rather than as a replacement.