Mouthwashes - are they good or bad?

I’ve been merrily using mouthwash every morning after brushing for a few years now, thinking it’s keeping my teeth cleaner and making my breath smell better. But I came across this article recently that seems to say what I’m doing is a bad thing,

the relevant bit saying

A bit of googling also brings up the factoid that mouthwashes with alcohol should be avoided, but it seems to me that nearly all mouthwashes do contain this.

So what’s the straight dope? Am I actually harming my teeth by using mouthwash?


I’d like to hear something about this from someone who knows something.

My dentist actually suggested that I use a mouthwash while I am brushing… for whatever that’s worth.

Listerine is the only mouthwash approved by the ADA because it contains alcohol (25% - do not swallow). However, Listerine Total Care does not contain alcohol. Its active ingredient is sodium floride. It advertises that it restores enamel and strengthens teeth. Your Guardian link states that floride (albeit in toothpaste) reinforce the surface. Alcohol kills germs, and that’s why it is ADA approved. My dentist recommends a mouthwash.

I use my mouthwash after I floss and before I brush. That way I leave the toothpaste flouride on, but get the benefits of mouthwash, whatever they may be.

I have chronic gum problems and my dentist(s) prescribe a mouthwash. It is one of the $4 prescriptions at WalMart. Called chlorhexadene gluconate or some such. It has about 12% alcohol.

[A pint of 24 proof for four bucks isn’t bad is it? How much does Listerine cost?]

I don’t remember. I buy the Listerine in a multi-pack at Costco, with a coupon if I have one. :slight_smile:

I threw out my mouthwash when I read this:

However, the American Dental Association disagrees:

You floss before brushing? Interesting–I do the opposite. Are you meant to do it in any special order?

I brush, floss, then brush again. Use mouthwash only occasionally.

I switched to flossing before brushing after reading here that it’s supposed to be done that way. The floss dislodges the crap between your teeth, so the toothpaste can get there, too. Perfectly logical to a craftsperson: you clean the surfaces before applying the finish.

My hygienist recommended flossing first. I figure flossing dislodges stuff, mouthwash helps rinse away a lot of it and brushing gets rid of what remains.

I can see how flossing first makes sense - knock out the big chunks and get at the bits that are too far up for the brush to reach. But I’d brush before rinsing: Toothpaste is an abrasive (kinda like sandpaper), and you use it with the brush to scrub the plaque off of your teeth and gums. Then once you’ve scraped most of it off, I figure it’s time to use the mouthwash on whatever is left.

Had a dentist who recommended using mouthwash, but only in addition to brushing and flossing. It can’t really do much by itself because a lot of the stuff in your mouth is pretty stubbornly stuck on to begin with or else it’d have been rinsed off by your spit.

The premise of the OP was that mouthwash last rinses off the flouride from the toothpaste that should remain on your teeth after a water rinse. I use mouthwash in addition to bushing and flossing too, just in between!

But don’t we get fluoride in our drinking water anyways?

Uh, The Guardian runs an article that suggests mouthwash is a bad idea. The English. Renowned for their teeth.:smiley:

The great unasked question here is whether or not they have been using mouthwash this whole time.

Not everyone. Some municipalities don’t add it and people on well water, or who drink mostly bottled water, do not get supplemented either.

My ENT told me to NEVER use mouthwash. The alcohol dries up everything inside the mouth/nasal cavity. Over time, this can have detrimental effects on your sinuses, throat, etc. I still use it, but very occasionally.

I gargle with alcoholic mouthwash as part of my daily shower. I started doing it on recommendation from my doctor to reduce the chance of recurrence of tonsillitis. (The preferred saltwater gargle makes me gag.) I swish it between my teeth after gargling. After spitting it out, I then rinse my mouth with water.