Do You Absolutely Need to Use Mouth Wash? Here's What the Experts Say

Using this product does much more than freshen your breath.

Brushing your teeth is the first step to cleaning and brightening your smile, but there are other important parts of a good dental hygiene routine that you should remember: namely, swishing mouthwash between every tooth. "Mouthwashes are used to freshen breath, however, it has many other benefits such as reducing tooth decay, reducing gum inflammation, whitening teeth, and preventing gum disease," Dr. Jeffrey Sulitzer, D.M.D., chief clinical officer with SmileDirectClub, says. Using this rinse can rid your mouth of food, too, but that's not all. "Many mouthwashes contain fluoride or hydroxyapatite, which are ingredients that help strengthen teeth; it helps keep the enamel on the teeth strong, which can help prevent cavities," Dr. Sharon Huang, DDS, MICOI of Les Belles NYC, a female founded and led dentistry practice, says. "Mouthwash can also reduce the amount of plaque on your teeth—another key role in fresh breath and fighting cavities." With all this being said, is mouthwash necessary to use after brushing your teeth? Here, our experts explain.

smiling woman brushing teeth
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Is mouthwash necessary?

Do you have to use mouthwash? In short, no—so long as you have healthy teeth based on your oral care regimen and your dentist's approval. "However, incorporating it into a healthy routine inclusive of flossing once daily and brushing your teeth after each meal can become an added benefit," Dr. Sulitzer says. He suggests using the SmileDirectClub Large Tank Water Flosser ($35, and SmileDirectClub Electric Toothbrush ($19, to keep teeth clean. Otherwise, if you do decide to use mouthwash, make sure it's free of one main ingredient: alcohol. "Alcohol is drying, and in a mouthwash, it can be quite irritating," adds Dr. Huang. "Excessive use of a mouthwash with alcohol can also lead to a reduction in saliva production, which is a recipe for dry mouth, bad breath, and cavities."

When should you use it?

You can use mouthwash directly after brushing or as a refresher throughout the day. Dr. Sulitzer suggests using it before or after brushing your teeth. The best order, however, is to "floss, clean your tongue, brush your teeth, and then use mouthwash," Dr. Huang says. "Most of my patients use mouthwash as a last step, so they walk away from the sink with that clean, fresh feeling [from] mouthwash."

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