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What Are the Benefits of Mouthwash?

Lainie Petersen
Updated May 17, 2024
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The benefits of mouthwash, sometimes referred to as mouth rinse, include the ability to freshen one's breath, kill bacteria that may contribute to tooth decay and gum disease, and loosen debris on and between teeth. In some cases, a mouthwash may also be formulated to provide additional benefits, such as tooth whitening. It should be noted that the benefits of mouthwash vary according to its formulations. Some mouthwashes primarily act to freshen breath and may not include the ingredients needed to protect a person's teeth and gums. Those who are concerned about receiving the full benefits of mouthwash should consult the primary professional organization for dentists in their jurisdiction to find out which mouthwashes it has approved for maintaining oral health.

A mouthwash is a flavored liquid that people use to rinse out their mouths before or after brushing their teeth. Some individuals may also rinse with mouthwash between brushings, particularly after eating foods that may cause a person to have bad breath. Mouthwash advertising campaigns typically emphasize the treatment and prevention of halitosis as one of the many benefits of mouthwash. While mouthwash can be effective at combating bad breath, it may not work well in people who have bad breath as a result of sinus problems, dental decay, or digestive issues.

Some people choose to rinse their mouths with mouthwash prior to brushing. This rinsing may assist in dislodging food particles between teeth, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum irritation, particularly in those who have crowded teeth or who wear braces. Some types of mouthwash are even formulated for use as a pre-rinse. In the United States, one such product is marketed for children, as it has the property of temporarily staining plaque so that children have an easier time effectively brushing their teeth. Children's mouthwashes are often formulated differently than those for adults because of the risk of children swallowing the liquid.

Other benefits of mouthwash depend primarily on the formulation. Some contain antimicrobial ingredients that can retard bacteria growth in the mouth. This can improve a user's oral health and reduce his likelihood of developing bad breath. Some mouthwashes also contain fluoride, which can strengthen teeth and help prevent cavities. It should be noted, however, that using mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing and flossing teeth on a regular basis. Individuals who are concerned about their oral and overall health should see their dentist on a regular basis for check-ups.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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Lainie Petersen
By Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an editor. With a unique educational background, she crafts engaging content and hosts podcasts and radio shows, showcasing her versatility as a media and communication professional. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any media organization.
Discussion Comments
By SarahGen — On Mar 18, 2013

Has anyone used one of those whitening mouthwashes? Does it work?

By candyquilt — On Mar 17, 2013

@ysmina-- I think that claim was made about mouthwash with alcohol in it. You don't have to use one with alcohol though.

There are alcohol-free mouthwashes on the market that kill germs and freshen breath just as well as those with alcohol.

I also use mouthwash regularly and I think it's an important step in dental care. It's especially important for people who've had dental work done because mouthwash protects from infections.

By ysmina — On Mar 17, 2013

I use mouthwash everyday, sometimes twice a day. Mouthwash is the only thing that keeps my breath fresh. Brushing doesn't seem to do anything. When I use mouthwash, I know I will have fresh breath for the next five six hours and that makes me feel good.

Recently, however, I heard that using mouthwash regularly can lead to mouth cancer. Is this true?

Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen
Lainie Petersen, a talented writer, copywriter, and content creator, brings her diverse skill set to her role as an...
Learn more
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