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To Rinse or Not to Rinse…

June 17th, 2021

The Nitty Gritty About Mouthwash

There are varying opinions in the dental world about making mouthwash use a part of your daily oral hygiene practises. But all dentists agree that mouthwash is NOT a replacement for brushing and flossing at least twice daily.

When it comes right down to it, mouthwash should be considered an add-on to your routine and is not an essential part of your daily oral hygiene regimen. But if you have challenges with the daily recommended oral hygiene practices, using a mouthwash could be beneficial. Ultimately, the choice of whether to rinse or not to rinse is yours.

Scenario 1

I have a tendency not to brush my back teeth well and I do not floss regularly. Could mouthwash help?

  • In this case mouthwash can be beneficial. Swirling mouthwash around in your mouth allows medicine to reach gum lines and the back corners of your mouth that are not as easily accessed by a toothbrush and flossing. This is why dentists sometimes suggest using mouthwash for cavity prevention or the treatment of gingivitis.

Scenario 2

I suffer from halitosis (bad breath.) Can a mouthwash cure this?

  • The short answer is “no.”

Despite some over-the-top claims made by mouthwash manufacturers, there isn’t a mouthwash on the market that can cure bad breath. The best a mouthwash can do to help is to mask the bad breath for a little while. And, to find one that will do that you must become a label reader. Mouthwashes that contain antimicrobials with ingredients such as chlorhexidine, chorine dioxide, cetylpyridinium chloride and essential oils can significantly reduce bad breath.

But remember, the result is temporary.

Scenario 3

I have early signs of gingivitis. Should I use mouthwash in addition to brushing and flossing?

Although adding mouthwash to your daily oral health routine won’t reverse the gingivitis it might help to stop its progression. But you must use a mouthwash that contains the antimicrobials mentioned above. Those ingredients can help mask bad breath and have also been shown to reduce plaque and gingivitis when you brush and floss.

Scenario 4

Where I live, we do not have fluoride in our water. Should I use a mouthwash that includes fluoride as an ingredient?

  • Fluoride helps teeth re-mineralize which prevents tooth decay, especially in children. In this case where fluoride is not found in the community water system, it would be beneficial to use a fluoridated toothpaste and a fluoridated mouthwash.

Once again, read labels to find a product that includes fluoride.

Scenario 5

I have been using mouthwash for a few months and I find that my teeth are becoming discoloured. What could be causing this?

  • Unfortunately, this can be a side effect of using mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine, cerylpyridinium chloride, and zinc. This combination can cause teeth and tongue to turn yellow and/or brown.

Scenario 6

I use mouthwash daily. Should my children also be using mouthwash daily?

  • The answer to this question is…it depends.

If your children are under 6 years of age they should not be swirling and swishing anything stronger than water. When considering children older than 6 it is recommended you speak with your dentist first. But, in general it is best to choose a mouthwash for children that does not include alcohol.

So, what will it be for you? Will you choose to rinse or not rinse?



Artistic Dental


Wekiva Dental

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