Using mouthwash correctly may not seem like a hard task, but if you are concerned with properly caring for your teeth and gums, it’s important to understand how to maximize the effectiveness of your mouthwash. One of the hardest questions to answer concerning mouthwash is if you should use it before or after brushing your teeth. Unfortunately there’s no definite answer, because it depends on what you’re aiming for with your mouthwash and how you want it to affect your mouth. That said, there is no wrong answer, if you use mouthwash before, after, or both you’re doing a much better job than not using mouthwash at all.
To decide if you want to use your mouthwash before or after your brushing, it’s first best to understand exactly what mouthwash can do for you. Its main purpose is to help kill bad bacteria in your mouth and loosen/flush out particles and plaque that are in the mouth.
When choosing a mouthwash, there’s not many you can go wrong with. Mouthwashes are often made very similarly, with the biggest difference being flavor and extra offerings, such as making your teeth whiter. However, many mouthwashes contain alcohol, which is less desirable than an alcohol-free mouthwash. Don’t get is wrong, a mouthwash with alcohol as an ingredient can still do wonders, however it can dry out your mouth. This can lower the production of saliva, which is the mouth’s natural defense against bad bacteria.
We recommend finding a mouthwash that is free of alcohol. Or, if you have a mouthwash with alcohol, try diluting it with water. A 20 to 70 ratio of water to mouthwash can work just fine at helping lessen the effects of the alcohol without making your mouthwash less effective.
Choosing when to use your mouthwash, now that you have chosen the mouthwash for you, is again up to you.
Using Mouthwash Before Brushing
If you use your mouthwash before brushing, the mouthwash has a good chance of breaking up a lot of the plaque and particles in your mouth making it easier for your toothbrush to get to the harder spots of the mouth and teeth and really scrub away plaque. This is similar to how you might rinse off your dirty dishes after dinner before placing them in the dishwasher.
Using Mouthwash After Brushing
If before brushing is similar to rinsing your dishes, after brushing is similar to soaking your dishes in diluted bleach water after they’re clean. Your mouthwash is making sure all of the scrubbed off residue and plaque is out of the mouth. And, if you choose to not rinse out your mouth after, is helping disinfect for a longer amount of time.
Using Mouthwash Both Before and After Brushing
For the over-achievers, rinsing both before and after you brush your teeth might be the best option. You’re loosening particles and plaque before and making sure they’re completely free of particles after. All the while killing as much bacteria as possible.
It’s really up to you on how you choose to use your mouthwash. According to a BreathMD poll, most people like to choose after brushing to use their mouthwash. However, that doesn’t make either way right or wrong.