Ask a Dentist

Mouthwash and Your Oral Health Rountine

Q: Should I use mouthwash every time I brush?

A: Contrary to popular belief, mouthwash is not a vital part of your oral health routine. Mouthwash kills germs that promote healthy bacteria, therefore leading to imbalances in your oral microbiome, pH levels, and saliva.

While mouthwash promises to kill “bad breath” germs, it risks killing the good bacteria that helps your mouth stay healthy, fight cavities, and remineralize teeth. Bacteria are an important part of your mouth’s health, similar to probiotics in the gut, and removing them does more disservice than it helps.

Also, alcohol in mouthwashes can actually lead to bad breath, rather than prevent it. Alcohol is a drying agent, and when your tongue dries, it fosters an environment for bad breath.

A more natural mouth rinse is simply rinsing with warm salt water. Just dissolving 1/2 tsp of natural sea salt in a 1 cup of warm water can cleanse your mouth if you swish for 30 seconds one to two times/day. The mechanical action of swishing will loosen plaque bacteria, and the natural properties of salt will reduce inflammation and fight bacteria.

A saltwater mouth rinse doesn't take the place of modern dental hygiene, but it can be used as a supportive measure.