Do You Use Mouthwash Before or After Brushing
Here is everything you need to know about mouthwash, including when and how to use it

According to the American Dental Association, it makes no difference whether you use mouthwash before or after brushing. Both are equally effective at helping keep your teeth clean. The more important thing is to make sure to brush and floss properly.

Here is everything you need to know about mouthwash, including when and how to use it.

What is mouthwash good for?

When you brush your teeth, you are really only cleaning the front and back surfaces of your teeth as well as parts of your tongue. 

It can be harder to reach areas such as your molars, soft palatal area, and pockets between your gums. When germs collect in these areas, it can lead to bad breath, plaque, and gum disease.

Mouthwashes are helpful in killing the bacteria in your mouth and reducing the risk of oral problems.

When should you use mouthwash?

The answer to this question is not simple. The scientific research is limited, and reputed organizations offer different recommendations. 

Although you can use mouthwash whenever you want to freshen your breath, it is not advised to use mouthwash immediately after you eat. This is because the sugars in foods and beverages can make your mouth more acidic, and using mouthwash too soon can cause enamel erosion.

A few scientists suggest avoiding using mouthwash immediately after brushing because most fluoride toothpastes contain around 1450 ppm of fluoride, whereas mouthwash contains around 450 ppm, which is not enough to prevent plaque buildup.

Mouthwash manufacturers may suggest a usage order based on the ingredients in their product, so make sure to check the label on your mouthwash to get the best results. 

You can also consult your dentist. Your dentist can assist you with choosing a mouthwash and deciding on the best time to use it depending on your oral health.

What are different types of mouthwash?

There are many different types of mouthwash with different objectives. Some contain the following ingredients:

  • Antiseptics such as menthol, alcohol, or eucalyptol, which can kill bacteria on your tongue and between your teeth to reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease
  • Peroxide, which can help brighten and whiten your teeth
  • Odor neutralizers and astringents to help mask bad breath
  • Fluoride to assist with strengthening your tooth enamel

If you have gum disease, you may even be prescribed an antimicrobial mouthwash by your dentist.

5 benefits of mouthwash

1. Fights cavities

Even though you may brush and floss your teeth regularly, it is still possible to develop cavities. However, a mouthwash that contains fluoride assists with strengthening your tooth enamel and can help offer added protection when it comes to preventing and slowing the progression of cavities.

2. Additional cleaning

Mouthwash can help flush out any debris in your mouth that may be left after brushing and flossing. The fluid flows around and between your teeth, assisting with cleansing your mouth more thoroughly.

3. Freshens breath

Mouthwash helps kill the bacteria that cause bad breath and leaves your breath smelling better than just brushing and flossing.

4. Cures canker sores

Canker sores are ulcers in the mouth that can be painful and annoying. Mouthwash can help clear them up faster.

5. Maintains healthy gums

Brushing does not remove bacteria in your gums, which can lead to gum irritation and inflammation. This can even lead to severe periodontal disease. Mouthwash can help kill bacteria and keep your gums healthier.

How to use mouthwash

Follow these steps when using mouthwash:

  • Pour approximately 20 mL of mouthwash into a cup
  • Pour into your mouth
  • Swish for 30 seconds vigorously
  • Gargle a few times while swishing
  • Spit the solution out in the sink


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Medically Reviewed on 8/5/2022
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American Dental Association. Mouthwash.

Science Direct. Mouthwash.