So here’s the question, is using mouthwash helpful or harmful for our oral health? One concern is that mouthwash kills the good bacteria in our mouth along with the bad, which in turn affects our ability to maintain a healthy mouth microbiome.

While many dentists do encourage their patients to use mouthwash as part of their daily dental care regiment, it doesn’t hurt to be aware of some of the potential side effects, that range from the use of chemical dyes and flavours and alcohol content, in using mouthwash.

The Pros

Mouthwash serves a number of roles when it comes to supporting oral health and hygiene and is definitely beneficial for keeping your teeth clean, and can even prevent unnecessary problems with your teeth.

As a liquid, mouthwash can get to the hard-to-reach corners and crevices of your mouth that a toothbrush or floss simply can’t. It can also reduce plaque build up and gingivitis and help prevent tooth decay and cavities.

The Cons

One mouthwash downside doesn’t have so much to do with the mouthwash itself, but with the habit of relying on mouthwash as your only form of dental care. In short, mouthwash should be used in conjunction with regular, daily use of a toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss.

So while mouthwash isn’t bad, it will be if it’s used to replace using a toothbrush completely. This is because a toothbrush is able to dislodge and breakup the plague, while the mouthwash flushes it out.

One thing to look out for however is the alcohol content of mouthwash. This is because alcohol-based mouthwashes can reduce the amount of saliva in your mouth, and since alcohol can be drying, it’s best to opt for an alcohol-free mouthwash if you notice your mouth feels dry after using a specific product.

While some mouthwashes, such as prescription-only chlorhexidine gluconate, prescribed to treat issues like gingivitis, can cause teeth staining, according to research.

According to research, mouthwash does change the levels of both good and bad bacteria in your mouth—and this isn’t necessarily good. One recent study discovered that Chlorhexidine mouthwash has the power to significantly alter your mouth’s microbiome, increasing acidity and actually heightening the risk of tooth damage. The same research team also found that antibacterial mouthwash can reduce the blood-pressure-lowering effect of exercise by around 60%, since this type of mouthwash can eliminate the good bacteria our bodies need to regulate blood pressure.

The best option when selecting a mouthwash is to get one that contains fluoride, as fluoride can help prevent tooth decay and lower the risk of harmful bacteria collecting in your mouth. Using a fluoride mouthwash before bed, ensures that its greatest benefit is achieved while you sleep, when your saliva flow naturally decreases.

But, yes there is a but, be sure to avoid using mouthwash right after you’ve brushed your teeth, as it will remove the fluoride from the toothpaste left on your teeth. Instead, wait at least 30 minutes after brushing your teeth to rinse with mouthwash, and don’t eat or drink anything for at least 30 minutes after swishing.

At the end of the day, a mouthwash does offer a lot of benefits for your oral health and hygiene. Just follow the instructions on the bottle, and do not use it to replace your daily brushing and flossing, and you should be fine. If you do have concerns, you can speak to you dentist, and ask them to recommend a mouthwash best suited for you.