Almost everyone knows that toothpaste is an essential part of a daily dental hygiene routine, but what about mouthwash? Many people are unsure whether they should be using mouthwash, and if so, how and when. Here are a few facts that can help to clean up the confusion.

1. Mouthwash Doesn't Replace Brushing or Flossing

Brushing and flossing are the cornerstones of a good dental hygiene routine. Brushing sweeps plaque from the front, back, and chewing surfaces of your teeth, while flossing removes plaque that has become trapped between the teeth. Using mouthwash is not a substitute for either flossing or brushing thoroughly every day.

2. Don't Use Mouthwash After Brushing

Dentists recommend that you do not use mouthwash immediately after you brush your teeth. As well as getting rid of traces of food and plaque, brushing your teeth with toothpaste also benefits your dental health by leaving a layer of fluoride in contact with your teeth. Using mouthwash immediately after brushing your teeth washes away this beneficial mineral, limiting the ability of your teeth to use it to repair their enamel. 

3. Mouthwash Is Useful After Meals

The most useful time to use mouthwash is immediately after you eat when it can help to wash away particles of food and freshen your breath. Using mouthwash is much easier and faster than brushing, which makes it more feasible to use after every meal compared to a toothbrush and toothpaste. Another alternative is sugar-free gum, which can help to stimulate saliva production and freshen breath after meals.

4. Fluoride Mouthwash Is the Best

If you choose to use mouthwash, dentists recommend that you choose one that contains fluoride. This natural mineral allows teeth to remineralise, restoring their enamel coating which protects the inside part of the tooth from decay. Mouthwashes that do not contain fluoride might feel fresh, but they do not provide the same benefits for your teeth.

5. Dentists Sometimes Prescribe Mouthwash

One situation in which you should definitely use mouthwash is if your dentist prescribes or recommends it. Mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine is very useful for quickly bringing down inflammation in the gums if you suffer from gingivitis. This type of mouthwash can cause dental staining, although the stains are manageable with professional whitening treatments. You should use chlorhexidine mouthwash if your dentist recommends it and continue to attend regular checkups so that your dentist can monitor your gum health.