Is mouthwash necessary?

Oral hygiene

Keeping your teeth and mouth clean will reduce your risk of dental decay, gum disease and bad breath. A sound oral hygiene routine consists of brushing teeth for 2 minutes at a time at least twice a day as well as flossing at least once a day. But what about mouthwash? Is this a necessary step or an optional extra?


If you enter the dental section of your local grocery or pharmacy, you’ll find rows and rows of mouthwash products in a variety of flavours and colours.  The selection can be quite overwhelming, to say the least, and this is before you even start to read the supposed ‘benefits’ offered by the different products. Some mouthwashes make large claims such as providing “around the clock” protection against plaque and bacteria. These kinds of claims should be taken with a grain of salt.

The main issue is that many people use mouthwash as a substitute for brushing their teeth and it simply cannot do the same job. Mouthwash has its place.

Mouthwash can provide that extra freshness you may want to feel after brushing your teeth and can be used to mask certain odours such as onions. In saying this, it is not an effective solution for the actual cause of bad breath. This can be diagnosed and treated by your dentist.

Due to the limited penetration abilities of an oral rinse, mouthwashes really are effective only on bacteria on the surface of the teeth. Healthy teeth and gums are properly maintained by brushing and flossing correctly and having routine dental cleanings and check-ups.

The bottom line

Mouthwash most certainly won’t cause you any harm (provided it’s not swallowed!) but it is not an essential part of oral care. If you choose to use mouthwash after you have brushed your teeth, that may be your personal preference, but if you haven’t got mouthwash in your home? Well, it’s not the end of the world!

Mouthwash FAQs

Can mouthwash treat bad breath?

No. Mouthwash can work to mask your bad breath, but it cannot treat the problem. You will need to make an appointment with your dentist to get to the bottom of this issue and thus effectively treat it.

Can mouthwash whiten my teeth?

There are many brands of mouthwash on the market which claim to whiten your teeth. This claim should be taken with a grain of salt. Though the formula may provide minor improvements, do not expect any major whitening effects.

Can I rinse my mouth instead of brushing my teeth?

Of course, you can – but you shouldn’t! Mouthwash is by no means a suitable substitute for brushing your teeth and will not provide the same clean that brushing and flossing will.