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How to Use Mouthwash Effectively: 4 Things to Remember

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jan 15, 2023

How to Use Mouthwash Effectively: 4 Things to Remember

Using mouthwash is a convenient way of making sure you have fresh breath. But do you know how to use mouthwash effectively?

A lot of people might think that all you need to do is to gargle mouthwash. But the reality is that there’s more to it than that!

How to Use Mouthwash Effectively: 4 Things to Remember

Mouthwash is usually touted as a way to improve your oral health. Some even claim that their products can protect teeth, strengthen gums, and helps clean your teeth.

Mouthwash isn’t always needed when it comes to caring for your oral health. There are some situations where using a mouthwash might have some benefit, such as when you have an infection or a sore in your mouth.

But in general, mouthwash isn’t as important as brushing your teeth or flossing. However, this doesn’t mean that mouthwash doesn’t do any good for your teeth and oral cavity.

In fact, a lot of people find that using mouthwash makes them feel good, and also keeps their breath fresh for longer. And knowing how to use mouthwash effectively can help improve its effects on your oral health.

Here are 4 things to remember:

1. Choose the right kind of mouthwash

There are a lot of different types of mouthwash available n the market that caters to different needs. Most of the types of mouthwash available in supermarkets are usually ones that are used for cosmetic reasons.

This means that they mostly keep your breath fresh and your mouth feeling clean. However, some can also contribute to reducing plaque and strengthening your teeth to some extent.

These types of mouthwash usually contain fluoride to strengthen teeth, an odor neutralizer, an astringent salt to cover up bad odor, and antimicrobial properties.

On the other hand, there are also some types of mouthwash that are used for therapeutic reasons. These can help with mouth sores and infection, plaque, gingivitis, and tooth decay.

A therapeutic mouthwash typically contains any number of active ingredients for this purpose. These include:

  • Chlorhexidine
  • Cetylpyridinium chloride
  • Peroxide

Aside from these, therapeutic mouthwashes can also contain fluoride and other ingredients that also help freshen your breath.

It is important to take these things into consideration whenever you buy mouthwash.

2. Follow the instructions on the label

Next, it’s important to follow the instructions that are on the label. This is because some types of mouthwash need to be diluted before use.

If you don’t dilute these types of mouthwash, they can sting or hurt your mouth and even cause irritation in your digestive tract. This is usually the case with therapeutic mouthwashes, so follow the instructions carefully.

3. Gargle for at least 30 seconds

Ideally, you should gargle with mouthwash for at least 30 seconds. This helps ensure that the mouthwash has reached all the parts of your mouth and that most bacteria or microorganisms in your mouth have been killed off by the mouthwash.

In particular, some types of mouthwash can contain alcohol, which can cause a burning sensation. This might make it difficult for some people to gargle their mouthwash for 30 seconds.

If this is the case, then switch to an alcohol-free mouthwash that doesn’t cause any burning or stinging. Afterward, make sure to spit your mouthwash and try to avoid swallowing it.

how to use mouthwash

4. Don’t forget to brush your teeth and floss

Lastly, it’s important to remember that using mouthwash is not a replacement for brushing your teeth and using dental floss.

Using mouthwash might make your mouth feel clean and fresh, but if you don’t regularly brush and floss your teeth, it won’t be very effective for upkeep of oral health. This is because gargling just doesn’t have the same effect as brushing your teeth.

The best way to go about it would be to brush your teeth first and use mouthwash afterward.

Learn more about Oral Care here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


Written by Jan Alwyn Batara · Updated Jan 15, 2023

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