What You Need To Know About Mouthwash

By QuickLifeHack

Mouthwash: What is it?

Mouthwash is a kind of liquid containing certain types of medication used to rinse teeth, gum and mouth. Most of the time mouthwash contains antiseptics to kill bad bacteria that live in the mouth.

Let’s face it, mouthwash never replaces the requirement of brushing and flossing for your necessary oral hygiene. Mouthwash can only be effective if you brush and floss timely and properly.

There are different types of mouthwash available in the market, and not all mouthwashes will strengthen your teeth.

Many people use mouthwash for bad breath, while others use it for preventing tooth decay, while others use it for maintaining good hygiene of the mouth, there are many people who also use mouthwash for cosmetic purposes. So it depends on your requirements.

Mouthwash pouring

Content Index

1. History of Mouthwash

2. How Does Mouthwash Work?

3. How To Use Mouthwash?

4. Different Types Of Mouthwashes

5. Some Clinical Considerations of Mouthwash

6. Necessary Precautions For Using Mouthwash

7. Common Active Ingredient Of Mouthwash

8. Is Mouthwash Really Necessary?

9. What is The Alternative To Mouthwash?

10. What are the best ways to avoid using mouthwash?

11. Oral Cancer Concern

History of Mouthwash

The first known use of mouthwash is in Ayurveda. They tried to treat Gingivitis through mouthwash.

 Later on it became popular among the upper class of Roman and Greek.

A mixture of salt, alum and vinegar was made as a mouthwash by Hippocrates.

18 Hundred years back Talmud prescribed a cure for gum illness containing drought water and olive oil.

In ancient China gargling with salt water, tea and wine was a common practice because of their antiseptic properties.

In North and South America people used salt water as a mouthwash for sore throats.

It can easily be said that mouthwash was prevalent all over the world in a different form before the modern era.

How Does Mouthwash Work?

There are different types of mouthwash available in the market. Each mouthwash component is slightly different from the others. So each mouthwash has its own way of functionality.

Some research shows that mouthwash helps to prevent plaque and gingivitis.

But the result of mouthwash largely depends on the ingredient of the mouthwash and whether the guideline for using mouthwash is followed properly or not.

Mouthwash contains antiseptic ingredients like alcohol, chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride etc to kill the bacteria. It reaches the crevices between the teeth and hard-to-reach places like the very back of the mouth. As a result mouthwash kills these bacteria more quickly than a brush does. Because brush isn’t capable of reaching those difficult areas every single time.

Some mouthwash claims that it strengthens the enamel of the teeth. Because this mouthwash contains Fluoride, Fluoride has an important role in strengthening the teeth. Research conducted in 2007 shows that this claim has some truth. Their research shows that 0.2% sodium fluoride mouthwash decreases the level of carries significantly.

How To Use Mouthwash?

The mouthwash using procedure may vary depending on the brand. Here we are giving a general direction, but you must follow the package instruction.

At First, you have to brush and floss your teeth properly. If you use fluoride-containing toothpaste then wait a while to use mouthwash because mouthwash will wash away concentrated fluoride.

Then take the defined amount of mouthwash labeled on the package or the amount prescribed by your dentist.

During gargling, you must close your mouth and swish around the mouth rigorously.

Don’t swallow the mouthwash, it would not help you any. swallowing a large amount may be harmful to you.

For fluoride mouthwash, you have to stop eating, drinking or smoking for at least 30 minutes. Because it will wash away the fluoride.

Different Types Of Mouthwashes

Mouthwash With Alcohol

Alcoholic mouthwash is the most popular one. Because it is more effective against bacteria. Alcohol itself helps to sanitize your mouth due to its antiseptic property.

People avoid using it. As alcoholic mouthwash is uncomfortable to use. Most of the time they complain of having a burning sensation. Especially those who have a sore in the oral cavity.

If you are trying to recover from alcohol addiction then it’s better to avoid alcoholic mouthwash. Young people should also avoid alcoholic mouthwash because accidental swallowing may make them sick.

Mouthwash Without Alcohol

Non-alcoholic mouthwash is the best alternative to alcoholic mouthwash because non-alcoholic mouthwash gives the same property as alcoholic mouthwash, on the other hand, will not give you any sensational feeling.

If you want alcohol-free mouthwash, you should go for mouthwashes containing that cetylpyridinium chloride. Because it is safe to use and available in the market. You can see here different types of mouthwash.

Fluoride Mouthwash

Fluoride is the most important ingredient to strengthen your enamel, as it fights against cavities and tooth decay. So it should be in the top position of your priority list.

Most of the time the paste you are using contains fluoride, even tap water also contains an amount of it. Then if you become a regular user of fluoride containing mouthwash, your teeth and gum will be severely strengthened. 

Cosmetic Mouthwash

The primary purpose of cosmetic mouthwash is to mask bad breath. If you are looking for any mouthwash to protect your teeth from decay or disease, then this mouthwash is not for you. If your only concern is bad breath then this is good for you.

Some Clinical Considerations of Mouthwash

Bad Breath

Poor oral hygiene is the most common cause of bad breath. The technical term for bad breath is halitosis.  Without proper brushing, flossing, and routine dental cleaning, harmful bacteria can easily invade your mouth and multiply rapidly which will eventually cause bad breath. Many oral health issues like cavities, gum disease, etc. can start from here.

Cosmetic mouthwash can give short-term solutions for bad breath. It can mask bad breath and also can provide a good smell. But it has no effect on bacteria. So it can’t cure your bad breath.

Mouthwash containing the active ingredient will be effective for long-term control of bad breath. Antimicrobial agents like Chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride and essential oils like eucalyptol, menthol, thymol, and methyl salicylate are used in mouthwash to inhibit the odor-causing agents like zinc salts, and ketone, terpene, and ionone.

Plaque and Gingivitis

Cetylpyridinium chloride and chlorhexidine mouthwash have shown that it has the capability to reduce Plaque and Gingivitis when this mouthwash is used combinedly with proper brushing and flossing. 

In some studies, it is found that Chlorhexidine has better Plaque control capability than essential oil.

Tooth Decay

The loss of fluoride is one of the major causes of tooth decay. Fluoride ion causes remineralization of Fluoride that was previously lost from the tooth. Generally, It is shown that Fluoride mouthwash reduces tooth decay in children without additional use of other fluoride-containing products.

Topical Pain Relief

Most of the time pain relieving mouthwash contains local anesthetics like lidocaine, benzocaine hydrochloride, dyclonine hydrochloride, or phenol.


In whitening mouthwash, Hydrogen peroxide is used as the main ingredient. Hydrogen peroxide acts as a bleaching agent to remove the stain. Peroxide can remove compounds that cause discolouration by partially penetrating the layers of the teeth. 

Necessary Precautions For Using Mouthwash

Most mouthwash contains alcohol and fluoride. If these ingredients are ingested in high volumes it can be harmful, especially for children. This is why the American Dental Association does not recommend mouthwash for children under.

The adult should also avoid swallowing mouthwash. It also can be harmful for them.

Common Active Ingredient Of Mouthwash

Cetylpyridinium Chloride Mouthwash

A study held in 2016 shows that Cetylpyridinium Chloride(CPC) has the property to fight against the harmful oral bacteria that are responsible for plaque.

CPC weakens the plaque’s ability to mature. It also works against Gingivitis and other Gum diseases.

Side Effects Of Cetylpyridinium Chloride

Tooth Staining

Cetylpyridinium Chloride has an unwanted side effect which is tooth staining. But it occurs with very few people, less than 3% of the users. Crest, an American toothpaste brand, claims it is one of the indications that mouthwash is working. Stains are the result of dead bacteria on the teeth. This information is not cross-checked by any reliable source.

Temporary Loss Of Taste

Sometimes CPC can affect your taste sense temporarily. It may alter or eliminate your taste-sensing capability. But it occurs in very few percentages of people. But the taste sensation is regained within a few days of discontinuation of mouthwash.

Chlorhexidine Mouthwash

Chlorhexidine Mouthwash is dentists’ primary choice to treat inflammation, swelling, and bleeding with gingivitis because Chlorhexidine is one of the most effective mouthwashes.

Side Effects Of Chlorhexidine Mouthwash 

There are some side effects you should consider before using it.

Staining: Like Cetylpyridinium Chloride, Chlorhexidine mouthwash has the same side effect of staining. Chlorhexidine may cause staining on your tooth surface and your tongue. Most of the time by thorough cleaning you can remove the stain. But for patients with lots of anterior white filling, the Dentist may not prescribe it.

Changing In Taste Sense: Some people have the experience that their taste sense becomes altered after using Chlorhexidine mouthwash. In very rare cases permanent taste alteration may occur.

Some Warnings For Using Chlorhexidine Mouthwash

Allergic Reaction: If you are sensitive to Chlorhexidine, then you should avoid it. you may suffer different forms of allergic reaction because of it.

Dosage: For any medication dosage, you should follow your Physician’s Instructions strictly or follow the packaging guideline. 

Ingestion: You must split out the mouthwash after rinsing. Must avoid swallowing.

Timing: Any kind of mouthwash should be used after brushing. Brushing, eating or rinsing with water after using mouthwash is not recommended.

Periodontitis: Chlorhexidine does not treat Periodontitis. If you are suffering from Periodontitis along with Gingivitis. Then Chlorhenxidine will only treat Gingivitis. 

Pregnancy: If you are pregnant or going to be pregnant then tell your dentist. It is not determined till now whether chlorhexidine is safe or not in pregnancy.

Breastfeeding: If you are breastfeeding then you should tell your dentist. Till now it is not determined whether chlorhexidine passes through milk or not. So it could affect your child.

Dental hygiene: One thing you must take into your consideration is that Chlorhexidine mouthwash or any kind of mouthwash would not replace your necessity for brushing or flossing.

Children: Chlorhexidine mouthwash is only recommended for adults. It is not recommended for children under 18.

Is Mouthwash Really Necessary?

Using mouthwash is not mandatory for your oral hygiene. Using mouthwash would not replace the necessity of using Brushing and flossing if anybody Brushes his teeth twice a day for two minutes and floss once a day regularly. Chances are very high that using mouthwash regularly would not make any difference in his oral hygiene.

Brushing and flossing are more effective than mouthwash because Brush and floss have direct contact with the surface of the teeth. Bacteria, debris and plaque are more easily removed by brush and floss because of the friction and motion of the brush and floss. Mouthwash also helps maintain your oral hygiene, but it is impossible for mouthwash to maintain the same label of contact with the tooth surface as brush and floss do. So it can not remove bacteria, or plaque like brush and floss do.

If you introduce mouthwash alongside brush and floss then it will improve your oral hygiene. But you must have to brush and floss regularly.

What is The Alternative To Mouthwash?

Home-made mouthwash can be an alternative to alcoholic or non-alcoholic mouthwash. The recipe is very simple.

  1. One teaspoon of salt
  2. One teaspoon of baking soda
  3. One cup of distilled water

Put these three ingredients together and mix well.  Then you use this mixture as a mouthwash. Other beneficial natural ingredients like aloe vera can be used. If you want you also add peppermint for a better taste.

What are the best ways to avoid using mouthwash?

The best way to avoid mouthwash is very simple to brush and floss regularly with proper guidelines.

Oral Cancer Concern

It is known that overconsumption of alcohol may cause cancer. So the question arises, is Alcohol containing mouthwash responsible for cancer? Some studies show no connection between using Alcoholic mouthwash and cancer. But if you have doubts, there are lots of non-alcoholic mouthwash available in the market, so choose one.


In conclusion, mouthwash can be a beneficial addition to a regular oral hygiene routine. It can help to freshen breath, kill bacteria, and prevent gum disease and cavities. However, it is important to choose the right type of mouthwash for your specific needs, as some may contain alcohol which can be drying to the mouth, while others may have additional benefits such as fluoride for strengthening teeth. Additionally, it should not be used as a substitute for brushing and flossing, which are still the most important steps in maintaining good oral health. Consulting with a dentist or dental hygienist can help to determine the best type of mouthwash for your individual needs and ensure proper use. If you want to further visit here.

Writer’s Description

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“The writer is a Pharmacy Graduate specializing in oral health. With extensive experience in the pharmaceutical industry, he provides evidence-based recommendations and effective medications for dental conditions. His expertise in pharmacology and dental therapies allows his to communicate complex medical information clearly. Passionate about empowering individuals, he advocates for informed decision-making to improve patients’ quality of life. With a focus on oral health, he contributes valuable insights to enhance well-being.”

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