This is a short article but it’s something I get asked a lot. Should I be using a mouthwash?

My answer is that it can be really helpful for protecting your teeth but only if you use it at a different time to brushing.

This may seem to go against how most of us think we should use mouthwash. All of the adverts show people brushing their teeth and then using a mouthwash straight after.

If you read the toothpaste article you will know that I said that after you brush, spit out the toothpaste but DO NOT RINSE. This leaves a bit of toothpaste on your teeth that keeps protecting your mouth.

The key ingredient in any mouthwash is the same as in toothpaste; fluoride. When you rinse with mouthwash straight after you brush, you are just washing away the good stuff in the toothpaste and swapping it for the mouthwash. You are swapping like with like. Fluoride for fluoride.

So there’s not much point in using a mouthwash at the same time as brushing your teeth.

But mouthwash can be really good at protecting your teeth when used at a separate time to brushing. A good time to rinse with a fluoride mouthwash is after lunch or when you come in from a day out. As long as it is not straight after brushing, it is beneficial.

When choosing a mouthwash, the same applies as with toothpaste. Look on the back of the packaging and as long as it contains fluoride, it’s what you want.

If you don’t use mouthwash, it’s not key. Brushing to remove plaque will always be much more effective than rinsing with mouthwash.

Our advice is based on evidence collected and reviewed by Public Health England.

Watch our video about how to care for your mouth.

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