What is mouthwash?

Mouthwash is a liquid that you can use as a rinse before or after brushing your teeth. Usually, people use mouthwashes for aesthetic reasons. Most individuals use it to sweeten or freshen their breath. However, it does also help to remove food particles left over after brushing. Mouthwash is also available in antiplaque or antigingivitis forms to help manage plaque and prevent gum disease.
You may use mouthwash, or mouth rinse, as part of your oral hygiene to freshen your breath and help eliminate bacteria. Mouthwash contains active ingredients such as sodium fluoride that help kill bacteria in your mouth. Other forms of mouthwash can target cavity prevention, plague, or gingivitis (gum infection). The mouthwashes you buy at the store are usually used before or after brushing to remove food particles and cover bad breath. Your dentist may prescribe a therapeutic mouthwash to protect you from conditions such as periodontitis (gum inflammation).
A mouthwash is used after brushing and flossing. This liquid is swished in the mouth and then spit out. Mouthwashes are used for a variety of reasons:
  • to freshen breath
  • help prevent or control tooth decay
  • reduce plaque (a thin film of bacteria that forms on teeth) 
  • prevent or reduce gingivitis (an early stage of gum disease) 
  • reduce the speed that tartar (hardened plaque) forms on the teeth
  • or to produce a combination of these effects.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.