First, you brush your teeth, then you floss your teeth, and finally, you finish off your dental routine with a swish-swish of mouthwash to give you perfectly fresh breath!

But, have you ever thought about how exactly that minty, blue rinse helps to keep your teeth and breath fresh and healthy?

Well, wonder no more!

Today, we’re going to take you through the ins and outs of mouthwash so you better understand what you’re doing with that morning (and evening) swish-swish – and how you can do it better!

Close Up Of A Man Pouring Mouthwash Into Cap

What mouthwash doesn’t do

Before we go any further, we want to make sure everyone understands what mouthwash does not do. 

It does not work as a stand-in for either brushing or flossing.

While dentists do recommend using mouthwash, it is always as part of a proper oral care routine that includes both brushing and flossing at least twice a day, preferably after every meal.

So, with that in mind, let’s continue!

The main ingredient(s)

Mouthwash is designed to infiltrate all the nooks and crannies of your teeth and gums to kill the leftover bacteria after you’ve brushed and flossed your teeth.

The first weapon in its arsenal is rather obvious – the fact that it’s a liquid.

While brushing is great at getting to easy-to-reach places to remove plaque and bacteria, and flossing gets in between teeth, there are often places in your mouth that never see a bristle or string – like the inside of your cheeks or the very back of your mouth.

But, because mouthwash is liquid, and it’s meant to be swished around inside your mouth, it hits every last nook and cranny inside your mouth!

But, what does it do when it gets there?

Effective mouthwashes use antiseptic ingredients to kill any bacteria in its path. However, there is no agreement on just which antiseptic ingredients are the most effective. As a result, you may notice differences in the mouthwashes you use. 

They can include:

  • Alcohol
  • Menthol
  • Eucalyptol

These ingredients are the reason why mouthwash can sting a bit. But, they’re also the reason it works!

Featuring fluoride

Fluoride is well-known to increase the strength of tooth enamel. 

While it’s traditionally used in toothpaste, recently it has also been included in mouthwash. For safety reasons, fluoridated mouthwash contains a much lower concentration than fluoride treatments at the dentist’s office, and it helps add just a little bit more protection to your teeth.