Best mouthwashes
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How Does Mouthwash Work?

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Brushing and flossing are the cornerstones of a good oral hygiene routine, but some people choose to complement this routine with mouthwash. If you want to add mouthwash to your daily routine, choosing the right product can be overwhelming. There are so many different types of mouthwash, and they each advertise a broad range of benefits.

What type of mouthwash should you choose? How does mouthwash work? This guide will answer those questions and more.

The Benefits of Mouthwash

Many people have a vague idea that mouthwash is good for their oral health but may not know the specifics of how mouthwash helps. There are many potential benefits of mouthwash, but these benefits depend on the product and how you're using it. So, how does mouthwash work?

There are two categories of mouthwash: cosmetic and therapeutic. Cosmetic mouthwashes strictly leave a fresh scent and taste in the mouth. These mouthwashes can help mask bad breath temporarily.

Therapeutic mouthwashes have active ingredients that are intended to address specific oral health concerns. These mouthwashes may be designed to fight the bacteria that cause bad breath or gingivitis. They could also be designed to provide fluoride to the teeth, control tartar buildup or soothe painful mouth sores.

How to Choose a Mouthwash

When selecting a mouthwash, think about your oral health needs. Prioritize your top two or three reasons for wanting to use mouthwash, and then look for a mouthwash that addresses those issues. For example, if you're concerned with surface stains on your teeth, look for a whitening mouthwash. If gum health is your concern, you may want to select a mouthwash that kills the bacteria that cause gingivitis.

With so many types of mouthwash available, you're sure to find a product that suits your current needs. For help choosing the best mouthwash, don't hesitate to ask your dentist.

Tips for Using Mouthwash

You're already a pro at brushing and flossing, but you may have some questions about the proper use of mouthwash. You may be wondering whether mouthwash should be used before or after brushing. The American Dental Association explains that manufacturers may recommend a certain order to maximize the product's effectiveness, so you should check the label of your chosen mouthwash. In cases where the manufacturer doesn't make a recommendation, you can rinse either before or after you brush, depending on your preference.

The ideal frequency of mouthwash use is another question you may have. Tufts School of Dental Medicine explains that this depends on the reason you're using the mouthwash. For people who simply want to keep their teeth clean, Tufts recommends swishing with mouthwash twice per day. For people who want the benefits of fluoride, once per day is enough.

While mouthwash can be a good addition to an oral hygiene routine, it's not a replacement for proper brushing and flossing. Make sure to keep brushing twice per day and flossing once per day, even when you're using mouthwash.

Choosing the right mouthwash doesn't have to be complicated. When you go to the store, keep your main oral health concerns in mind and select a product that meets those specific needs. If you're still not sure which mouthwash is right for you, ask your dentist or dental hygienist for advice


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.