mouthwash is a myth

Mouthwash – it’s a myth!

From childhood we are taught to brush twice daily and as adults we learn about interdental cleaning. However, when life gets hectic (as it often does!), it’s tempting to think that we can take shortcuts in our daily oral hygiene routines. Many people think that swirling out with mouthwash can replace the need for brushing or using interdental aids as it will remove plaque – this is quite simply wrong!


It doesn’t help that certain mouthwash manufacturers advertise with misleading advice – phrases such as “Don’t stop after brushing, complete the clean with xxxxxx” can completely confuse the average consumer!


Sure, your mouth may feel fresher, but rest assured mouthwash is not a requirement to keep your mouth healthy. Despite claims, mouthwash alone DOES NOT remove plaque – just like passing a bar of soap to your muddy child won’t make him/her miraculously clean!


Certain mouthwashes can, in fact, be detrimental to your oral health. Some can destroy the “good bacteria” in your mouth which in the long term can then lead to tooth decay whilst others are full of harmful ingredients which can be acidic. Alcohol-based mouthwashes can cause dry mouth or lead to sores whilst those containing a common ingredient, Cetylpyridinium Chloride, may cause teeth staining or irritation.


We won’t argue, sometimes mouthwash may come in handy – after meals to wash away leftover food or when you need the confidence of a freshness boost when you are unable to brush. Remember to use an alcohol-free mouthwash which contains fluoride at these times.


Occasionally your dentist may prescribe the use of a specific treatment in the form of a mouthwash. For example, you may be prescribed a short-term treatment of antibacterial mouthwash to treat gum disease or a fluoride-based wash to help combat dry mouth. These will be specific to your needs and your mouth will be monitored whilst you are using it.


Every person is different so ask your dental healthcare professional for what is best for you.


So, overall, what do we recommend?


  • Don’t rinse after brushing your teeth – all the lovely protective fluoride from your toothpaste gets washed away before it can do its job
  • If you want to freshen your mouth during the day, then use an alcohol-free mouthwash. Choose one which contains fluoride otherwise there is little benefit to your mouth.
  • If you are suffering from bad breath and you are using mouthwash to mask it, you may have a dental problem which is causing the problem – book an appointment with your dentist and hygienist as soon as possible to have a full examination and a thorough clean.
  • Ask your dentist or hygienist for information – they will give you unbiased and knowledgeable advice on use of mouthwashes and which one would be best for you.
  • Consider chewing sugar-free gum to freshen breath during the day (not after brushing) instead of mouthwash. Gum can stimulate saliva production and neutralize harmful acids as well as giving you that minty freshness.


We hope that you have found this helpful – please get in touch if you want to know more or to book your appointment with one of our experts.


Tel. 01406 364600 or email us at

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