Considering an Oral Rinse? Learn the Drawbacks & Benefits of Mouthwash

Joelle Klein

by | Updated: July 23rd, 2023 | Read time: 4 minutes

Aside from its general uses for oral health, what do you know about your mouthwash? Mouthwash, also known as mouth rinse or oral rinse, has many oral health and cosmetic benefits (depending on the type you use), plus a few cons.

People use mouthwash regularly or on occasion for a variety of reasons. Whatever the method or reason you use it, it’s important to note that using mouthwash should never replace regular brushing and flossing of your teeth. And according to the American Dental Association, children under six should not use mouthwash at all.

The multitude of mouthwash products available have just as many cosmetic and therapeutic benefits. Learn more about the benefits of mouthwash.

A Young Woman Looks in the Bathroom Mirror While She Uses Mouthwash, Representing the Benefits of Mouthwash.

Benefits of Mouthwash

Freshens breath

One of the primary reasons people use mouthwash is to combat bad breath. Mouthwash can help mask unpleasant odors caused by bacteria and food particles in the mouth, leaving your breath feeling and smelling fresher.

Reduces plaque and gingivitis

Some mouthwashes contain antibacterial ingredients, such as chlorhexidine or essential oils, which can help reduce plaque buildup on teeth and gums. By controlling plaque, mouthwash can also help prevent or reduce gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease characterized by red, swollen and bleeding gums.

Fights cavities

Certain mouthwashes contain fluoride, a mineral that helps strengthen tooth enamel and protect against tooth decay. Fluoride mouth rinses can be particularly beneficial for individuals at higher risk of cavities, such as those with a history of dental cavities or insufficient fluoride exposure.

Soothes mouth sores

Some mouthwashes contain ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile or menthol that can temporarily relieve mouth sores, such as canker sores or oral ulcers. These ingredients may have mild numbing or soothing effects on the affected area.

Complements a good oral hygiene routine

Brushing and flossing are essential for good oral hygiene. However, swishing around therapeutic ingredients such as fluoride or Chlorhexidine can get to places in your mouth that brushing and flossing may not reach.

The Cons of Using Mouthwash

While mouthwash can provide certain benefits, depending on the ingredients or its use, there can be a few drawbacks.

Alcohol content

Many mouthwashes contain alcohol, which can cause a burning or stinging sensation in the mouth. This can be particularly uncomfortable if you have oral sensitivity issues. Additionally, alcohol-based mouthwashes may also cause dry mouth, as alcohol can have a drying effect.

Disruption of oral microbiome

Mouthwash, especially those with antibacterial ingredients, can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the mouth. While it can help reduce harmful bacteria, it may also eliminate beneficial bacteria that play a role in maintaining oral health.

Masks underlying issues

Mouthwash can temporarily mask bad breath, but it does not address the root cause of it. Chronic bad breath may be a symptom of an underlying oral health issue, such as gum disease, tooth decay or an infection.

How to Choose a Mouthwash

Choosing the best mouthwash for you depends on your specific oral health needs and preferences. Here are some factors to consider when shopping for a mouthwash:

Oral health goals

Are you looking to fight bad breath, reduce plaque and gingivitis, fight cavities or address specific oral health issues? Different mouthwashes target different concerns, so identifying your priorities will help you choose the right product.

Active ingredients

Check the active ingredients listed on the mouthwash label. Look for antibacterial agents like chlorhexidine, essential oils (such as eucalyptol, menthol and thymol) or cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) to reduce plaque and gingivitis. If cavity prevention is a priority, choose a mouthwash that contains fluoride.

Sensitivity considerations

If you have sensitive teeth or gums, look for mouthwashes designed for sensitive mouths. These products are formulated to be gentle and soothing.

Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance

Look for the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance on the mouthwash packaging. This seal indicates that the product has met the ADA’s standards for safety and effectiveness.


If one of your cosmetic goals is to brighten and whiten your teeth, look for a mouthwash that contains carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient.

How to Use Mouthwash

First, read the directions on the product. Different products may have different directions, but here are some general rules for how to use mouth rinse.

  1. Brush and floss.
  2. Follow the directions for the amount of product to pour into the container, and use no more than directed.
  3. Pour the liquid into your mouth and swish for 30 seconds and gargle for about 30 seconds. Do not swallow!
  4. Spit.

Remember, mouthwash should be used as a complementary part of a comprehensive oral hygiene routine, which includes brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily and regular dental check-ups. Consult a dental professional if you want advice on finding the right mouthwash.

Featured Products

Auromere Ayurvedic Mouthwash With Neem & Peelu
Desert Essence Prebiotic Plant-Based Brushing Rinse
Dr. Ginger's Coconut Mouthwash