How to Have Fresh Breath Using Mouthwash

By KeepWhite / January 26, 2015

Mouthwash for Confident Socialization

Bad breath and other oral issues can be easily treated, thanks to mouthwash. Some people are more prone to bad breath than others and many factors, such as diet and oral care regimens, can add to the problem. The social stigma of having foul smelling breath can be a hard one to shake.

Even in Hollywood, certain actors are reported by others to have been difficult to work with due to consistent bad breath issues. Just imagine having to spend every work day in close physical proximity to another person with this problem, with dialogue being the tool of your craft!

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For fresher breath and improved oral health, many dentists recommend daily use of mouthwash.

In fact, mouth rinses of varied forms have been used used since ancient Egyptian, Chinese, Greek, and Roman cultures, according to Oral B’s “History of Mouthwash”. Modern mouthwash containing germ fighting ingredients such as alcohol was first mass produced as of the late 1800’s in America, not long after toothpaste was commercially developed.

The good news for people of today is that we no longer have to suffer embarrassment or discomfort from oral problems. We just have to make sure the products available to us are used properly.

Below is a primer on the use of mouthwash, so we can all breathe and socially interact more confidently.

What Does Mouthwash Do?

What Does Mouthwash Do?

Most people know mouthwash freshens the mouth. But, there are two ways that mouthwashes eliminate bad breath. Some work to kill bacteria that create the bad odor, while other rinses simply mask the bad smell from those bacteria.

Some mouthwashes, such as fluoride rinses, do more than just freshen. Such specialized rinses add protection against acids produced by plaque bacteria, which can damage teeth. These quality mouthwashes prevent cavities and deter plaque buildup.

Dentists often prescribe more powerful medicated mouthwashes for specific issues, such as fungal infections or gum problems. There are also rinses which alleviate pain in the mouth and to help stop swelling.

Does Mouthwash Really Work?

Mouthwash is proven effective and recommended by dentists as part of daily oral health care. Mouthwash is not meant as a substitute for brushing with fluoride toothpaste or flossing. However, when combined with brushing and flossing, mouthwash reaches areas those implements cannot.

For mouthwash to work best, it should be used properly:

  1. Measure the correct amount of mouthwash into the bottle’s cap or other measuring device. The manufacturer’s label or prescription should state how much to use.
  2. Pour the measured mouthwash into your mouth. Do not swallow.
  3. Rinse and swish the mouthwash with vigor throughout the mouth, around teeth and between cheeks and gums. Do this for 30 seconds to one minute.
  4. Either spit out the used mouthwash and use a second dose to gargle, or reuse the swished mouthwash for the gargling.
  5. Gargle in the back of the mouth with your chin elevated for mouthwash to reach into the throat. Do this for 30 seconds to one minute. Although this seems like a long period of time for gargling, it is important to endure for at least 30 seconds. Bacteria resides far back in the mouth and lengthy gargling helps reach those odor and cavity causing elements.
  6. Spit the used mouthwash into the sink. Do not rinse with water or drink any fluids for at least 10 minutes.

When to Use Mouthwash

Most oral care practitioners recommend that mouthwash is used twice per day as part of regular oral care. It is most convenient to use mouthwash when brushing and flossing teeth.

Many people opt to rinse with mouthwash before bed, as well. This is done to kill germs and odor causing bacteria for the night. Night rinsing can also help prevent dry mouth during sleep.

Should Mouthwash Be Used Before or After Brushing?

Girl Mouthwash

Any dentist will admit that patients often ask, “Do I use mouthwash before or after brushing?” Among dentists, this question is answered “before” by some and “after” by others. There is much debate as to which use is most effective.

Many studies say that in order to effectively protect teeth from plaque bacteria acids, mouthwash should be used after teeth have been well brushed and flossed. The same is true of prescribed mouthwash for treatment of infection or to soothe gum problems. The theory behind this argument is that the mouthwash should be allowed to linger in the mouth to be more effective and not be brushed or rinsed away.

Other viewpoints push use of mouthwash before brushing and flossing. Dentists on this side reason that the rinse helps loosen particles in the mouth and kills much of the bacteria. Then, brushing and flossing finish the job.

Each of the two directions for mouthwash use as part of regular oral care have their merit. Prescribed mouthwashes may have different schedules of use, according to the problem being treated. The best approach is to talk to your dentist for his or her opinion specific to your oral health.

Is Mouthwash a Necessary Part of Oral Care?

Mouthwash is not necessarily required for good oral health. The American Dental Association(ADA) states that daily toothbrushing and flossing are sufficient for prevention of tooth decay and toward a healthy mouth. But, the ADA approves some mouthwashes as beneficial.

Benefits of Mouthwash

Mouthwash can help many issues like bad breath and infection that are difficult to treat through other means. Rinses also reach places that a toothbrush and floss do not. The roof of the mouth, back of the throat, tongue and inside the cheeks are more easily treated by a mouthwash than through brushing.

Can You Drink Mouthwash?

Drink Mouthwash

Mouthwash is not safe to drink. Many mouthwashes contain harmful ingredients such as denatured or methyl alcohol. These alcohols are not safe for human consumption and can cause problems such as blindness, organ failure and even death. Hydrogen peroxide in some brands causes gastrointestinal damage if swallowed. Other mouthwashes have phenolic compounds such as menthol, eucalyptol and thymol in their formulation and can cause organ damage.

Even drinking just a small amount of mouthwash can cause dizziness, stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Drinking enough to feel intoxicated is extremely dangerous and has been known to lead to death.

Does Mouthwash Expire?

Whether opened or still sealed in original packaging, mouthwash is generally good for about two to three years from the manufacture date. Most mouthwashes have an expiration date on their label. It is not advised to use expired mouthwash, because the product will be less effective and change color and taste.

Manufacturers recommend storing mouthwash away from heat, extreme cold or direct sunlight. Mouthwash should not be frozen. It should be kept in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or cabinet. The cap should always be closed tightly to ensure that the mouthwash does not lose effectivity through evaporation of key ingredients.


It is not as important which brand is selected for your household or personal use, as most on the market today have merit. Proper use is what counts. When used as directed, mouthwash is effective at treating bad breath and prevention of other oral issues.

Dentists recommend mouthwash use daily as part of a healthy oral regimen, just as scientists have since ancient times. Mouthwash is never a substitute for brushing and flossing of teeth. But, it is a quick step in oral care that will ensure your mouth remains healthy and smile intact. With a good rinse, your breath will be fresh enough to confidently engage in whatever social activities and conversations you desire.

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