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How to Use Mouthwash Properly

Posted on 2/15/2017 by Dr Jonathan Ford
A man using mouthwash to clean his mouth out.
You brush and floss your teeth, and that's great, but do you use mouthwash? Mouthwash is an important part of your oral hygiene routine and should not be skipped. It gets into all of the difficult crevices all throughout your mouth and helps to kill any bacteria that might be lingering. But if you don't use it correctly, you won't be getting the full benefits. Here are a few tips on how to use mouthwash properly.

Read the Labels
Check the ingredients and read the instructions of your mouthwash before you use it. Some contain alcohol, which can burn if you have irritated gum tissue. Or perhaps you simply want alcohol-free mouthwash. And while many mouthwashes become less effective if you dilute them with water, some brands will specify that you do so.

Use the Right Amount of Mouthwash

Using the right amount of mouthwash will ensure that it does the job that it's intended to do. Too much or too little just won't be as effective. For most mouthwash, the recommended amount is to use 20 ml (4 teaspoons). Some caps come with a fill line. Otherwise, you might consider investing in a mouthwash dispenser that will give you the right amount every time.

Keep Track of Time
It is also important that you rinse your mouth for the appropriate amount of time, between 30 and 60 seconds. If you go less than 30, you're not giving it sufficient time to do its job. Count in your head or watch the second hand of a watch. If you can't rinse for a full 30 seconds (maybe your mouthwash burns) start with less time and work your way up, or invest in a new mouthwash.

Don't Use It as a Replacement
Sure, mouthwash is effective at killing germs, and gives you clean, fresh breath, but it should not be used as a replacement for brushing and flossing. Mouthwash can help loosen plaque, but alone it cannot remove plaque and food particles completely from the surfaces of your teeth or between them.

Mouthwash should be used as a part of your oral hygiene routine, in conjunction with brushing and flossing. If your mouthwash just doesn't seem to be doing the job, even after following these tips, contact your dentist for recommendations of different brands.

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