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Should I Use Mouthwash For Added Health Benefits?

February 11, 2021

Before you give your significant other a Valentine’s Day kiss, make sure your mouth is as fresh as can be. Not only will your partner appreciate it, but you may also be protecting yourself from additional health issues. But is it more effective before or after you’re done brushing?

Brushing and flossing your teeth is standard when it comes to good oral hygiene. Studies show that the practice is a great way to prevent tooth decay. But to get better results, you should floss before you brush. The results showed that flossing followed by brushing is preferred to brushing then flossing in order to reduce interdental plaque and increase fluoride concentration in interdental plaque.

Types of Mouthwash

Broadly speaking, there are two types of mouthwash: cosmetic and therapeutic.  

  • Cosmetic mouthwash may temporarily control bad breath and leave behind a pleasant taste, but have no chemical or biological application beyond their temporary benefit.
  • Therapeutic mouthwash contains active ingredients intended to help control or reduce conditions like bad breath, gum disease (gingivitis), plaque, and tooth decay.

It can also combat conditions such as receding gums and dry mouth.

Mouthwash should be used in addition to brushing and flossing. But keep this in mind, when choosing your mouthwash it's important to read the label. Only use a mouthwash that has the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

A company earns the ADA Seal of Acceptance by providing scientific evidence that demonstrates the safety and efficacy of its product, which the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs carefully evaluates according to objective requirements.

Mouthwash Versus Mouthrinse

This may help you determine whether you should use mouthwash before or after brushing.

A mouthrinse is normally used prior to brushing and flossing your teeth. The purpose of a mouthrinse is to freshen your breath and to help prevent a buildup of plaque on the surfaces of your teeth. Mouthrinses often contain alcohol — for its antibacterial effect — and fluoride or other agents to help protect your teeth.

Mouthwashes are basically antiseptic solutions that are used to kill or retard the growth of bacteria in your mouth after brushing. To do this, mouthwashes commonly contain a high percentage of alcohol – up to 27% — and antiseptics. Other common ingredients include essential oils, flavoring agents, hydrogen peroxide, zinc and fluoride.

The National Health Service says something a little different. It says if you use a fluoride rinse, you can use the mouthwash right after brushing your teeth. However, you don't want to use non-fluoride mouthwash right after brushing. If you brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste, don't use a mouth rinse afterward because it will wash away the concentrated fluoride in the toothpaste left on your teeth.

In the end, There's really no hard and fast guideline for when to use mouthwash. But it’s not going to strengthen tooth enamel or fight gum disease unless you use it right after brushing and flossing. So, for best results, teeth should be freshly cleaned before using mouthwash.

Mouthwash For Good Health

Some studies have shown that using an antiseptic mouthwash may protect you from certain viruses. Another published in the AHA journal Hypertension found that gum disease appears to worsen blood pressure and interferes with medications to treat hypertension.

And science supports a potential connection between dental health and heart health. Gum disease is one of the diseases where the body may be in a sort of continual state of inflammation, and this seems to be a very powerful predictor of cardiovascular disease.

Other studies linked dental health and heart health, including:

The best way to determine your overall health and the steps you may need to take to improve it is to get your annual screenings. Our guide: “Midlife Health Screenings for Men and Women” will help you determine which tests you need, how often you should get them, and what age is appropriate for each screening.

Midlife Health Screenings