Should You Use Mouthwash Before or After Brushing?

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Brushing and flossing are the foundations of a good oral hygiene routine ‚ but mouthwash can also be a useful addition, thanks to the many oral health benefits it has to offer. If you've recently started using mouthwash, you may be wondering how you should incorporate it in your routine. Is it better to use mouthwash before or after brushing? And what else can you do to boost your oral health?

Benefits of Mouthwash

Mouthwash may be best known for freshening your breath, but adding it to your daily oral care routine can provide many other benefits, too.

The American Dental Association (ADA) explains that mouthwash can reach areas that your toothbrush can't, which can help to reduce your risk of developing cavities and gum disease. As the American Academy of Periodontology notes, untreated gum disease can lead to complications such as gum recession and tooth loss, but using mouthwash can help boost your prevention efforts.

Mouthwash achieves these oral health benefits by helping to control plaque, which is a thin, bacterial film that builds up on your teeth. When plaque isn't removed, it eventually hardens into tartar. The ADA reports that mouthwash can actually slow down the formation of tartar, too.

When to Use Mouthwash

When you first add mouthwash to your oral care routine, you may wonder‚ should you use mouthwash before or after brushing? This is a good question, and it doesn't have a simple answer. The scientific research is limited, and reputable organizations offer different recommendations.

The Mayo Clinic recommends using mouthwash after brushing and flossing your teeth. However, the National Health Service (NHS) recommends avoiding mouthwash right after brushing, since this may wash away the fluoride from your toothpaste. Instead, the NHS recommends using mouthwash at a different time of day.

The ADA states that you may choose to use mouthwash before or after brushing based on personal preference. That said, mouthwash manufacturers may recommend an order based on their product's ingredients, so check the label on your product to ensure that you maximize its effects.

Other Ways to Boost Your Oral Care Routine

Mouthwash can enhance your oral care routine, but remember: It's not a substitute for regular brushing and flossing. Brush your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes to remove food particles and plaque from your teeth, and floss once a day to clean between your teeth and along your gumline.

If you want to make further improvements to your daily oral care routine, consider these tips from the Mayo Clinic and the ADA:

  • Eat a well-balanced, tooth-healthy diet.
  • Limit high-sugar foods and drinks, such as candies and sodas.
  • Avoid frequent snacking.
  • Drink fluoridated water.
  • Change your toothbrush every three to four months‚ or sooner if it looks worn or frayed.
  • See your dentist regularly for checkups.

While it's not a replacement for brushing and flossing, mouthwash can play an important role in your oral hygiene routine. It can help to freshen your breath, remove plaque and reduce your risk of cavities and gum disease. For help deciding whether to use mouthwash before or after brushing, talk to your dentist.

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.

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Top Oral Care Tips Related to ADULT ORTHODONTICS

  • Flossing – creating a flossing routine is important during orthodontic treatment. Orthodontists and hygienists may recommend interdental brushes or floss threaders to make getting in between teeth easier.

  • Brushing routine – using fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush are ideal for cleaning teeth with braces. Begin brushing at a 45-degree angle at the gum line using small circular motions. Then place the toothbrush on top of the brackets, angling down to brush on top of each bracket. Finally, reposition the brush to brush the bottom of the bracket as well as the wire, angling the toothbrush up.

  • Fluoride mouthwash – after brushing and flossing, rinse with a fluoride mouthwash to help prevent cavities and white spots.

  • Mouthguards – wear a mouthguard if you play sports. Mouthguards can protect your cheeks and lips from serious cuts and can prevent damage to your braces or orthodontic appliance if you fall down or are hit in the face.