A Guide to Using Mouthwash

You can use mouthwash every day as a preventive measure but also to treat certain dental conditions. There are several types of mouthwashes with different applications.
A Guide to Using Mouthwash

Last update: 14 February, 2020

Using mouthwash is a complement to brushing your teeth, but can never replace it. If you use this oral hygiene tool along with flossing, you’ll help keep your mouth healthy.

To choose the right mouthwash for your needs, seek advice from oral health care professionals. They’ll indicate the appropriate one for each case and the proper way to use it.

Mouthwash with or without alcohol

When it comes to choosing a mouthwash, it’s important to first consider its alcohol content. If it contains alcohol, you shouldn’t swallow it or use it continuously. Ultimately, a product with alcohol can affect oral mucosa. However, you can also find alcohol-free washes on the market.

Some mouthwashes contain CPC, cetylpyridinium chloride, which is safe and effective. It’s an ingredient that helps prevent the accumulation of germs.

A person using mouthwash.

Types of mouthwash

Mouthwashes are divided into two main groups: cosmetic and therapeutic. Therapeutic mouthwashes are indicated to solve problems such as gum inflammation, tooth sensitivity, or mouth sores, among others. Meanwhile, cosmetic mouthwash often includes whitening products.

Generally, you should use mouthwash half an hour after brushing, as the components of toothpaste may interfere with its effectiveness. Below, we’ll share the indications of the most commonly used mouthwashes.

Using mouthwash for Halitosis or bad breath

If you suffer from halitosis, the most important thing is to know the cause. This problem is usually the result of the decomposition of bacteria of food scraps in the mouth. Mouthwashes to treat bad breath contain ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide, zinc, chlorhexidine, or triclosan.

Experts recommended rinsing with 15 ml undiluted mouthwash for 30 seconds at least twice a day or after each brushing. For greater efficiency, try not to rinse with water or eat or drink immediately after its use.

This article may also interest you: 3 Natural Mouthwash Recipes for Bad Breath

Gum conditions

These problems occur when the bacteria of dental plaque build up in the gums and lead to inflammation and bleeding. They can cause loss of bone and even the tooth.

For gum treatment, dentists usually recommended soft mouthwashes without alcohol. These mouthwashes include povidone-iodine, phenols, or essential oils in their ingredients. Mouthwashes with salts are also suitable for these cases.

To treat periodontitis, dentists also indicate chlorhexidine, a broad spectrum antiseptic that’s effective against bacterial plaque.

A woman with swollen gums.
Mouthwashes may be indicated to treat gingivitis.

Using mouthwash for tooth decay

Cavities are one of the most common oral problems. However, they can be avoided with proper oral hygiene and fluoride treatment. Fluoridation helps maintain the tooth surface intact and prevents it from becoming porous, blocking the entry of bacteria.

Washes that contain fluoride are helpful for cavities since they help strengthen tooth enamel.

Xerostomia or dry mouth

If you’re prone to dry mouth because you have little saliva, you’re at a higher risk of developing bacterial infections, since saliva isn’t fulfilling its protective function. For this reason, experts recommend using an appropriate mouthwash that, in addition to refreshing your mouth, acts as a preventive measure. This type of product is rich in minerals, vitamin E, and fluoride.


If you wear braces, you need to use mouthwash because brushing isn’t enough in these cases. By using mouthwash, you reach the areas that brushing can’t, ensuring complete oral care.

  • Perform rinses with 15 ml undiluted wash for 30 seconds at least twice a day or after each brushing.


Using mouthwash removes food scraps from places that brushing can’t reach. Therefore, in addition to freshening your breath, it helps maintain proper oral health. Overall, there are clear indications for each type of therapeutic mouthwash. A dental professional can help you choose the right one.

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