If you love the fresh feeling of rinsing your mouth with mouthwash, you might think that you are doing a great thing for your teeth by using it. However, mouthwash can be either a help or a hindrance to good dental health depending on how and when you use it. Use these five mouthwash tips to make the most of your daily swish.

1. Flossing and Brushing Are Still Essential

Unfortunately, using mouthwash is not a substitute for flossing or brushing. It would be great if simply swishing a fresh-tasting liquid around your mouth removed as much plaque as sliding floss between your teeth, but in truth, you need the mechanical action of flossing and brushing to get rid of plaque from the surfaces of teeth. Treat mouthwash as a supplement to a good dental hygiene routine, not a substitute for one.

2. Mouthwash Is Most Useful After Eating

The most beneficial time to use mouthwash is immediately after you eat when the mouth is full of tiny scraps of food. By rinsing your mouth with mouthwash, you can remove these potential bacterial food sources, therefore restricting their multiplication and as a consequence reducing your risk of tooth decay. Mouthwash also freshens breath, allowing you to feel confident in afternoon meetings or after-dinner social events.

3. Mouthwash After Brushing Can Be Counter-Productive

After you brush with fluoride toothpaste, a thin layer of toothpaste remains in contact with the teeth. There is some evidence that you should not rinse your mouth after brushing, with either water or mouthwash, in case you wash away this layer. Fluoride helps to strengthen the teeth by helping them to rebuild enamel, so it is important to get the full benefits every time you brush with a toothpaste that contains it.

4. Alcohol-Based Mouthwash Can Cause Irritation

If you suffer from dry mouth or have frequent ulcers, then you should avoid using an alcohol-based mouthwash. This type of mouthwash dries out the oral tissues, which can leave them feeling sensitive, as well as making them more prone to developing small cuts, sore spots, or ulcers. You may benefit from using a non-alcohol-based mouthwash in your daily dental hygiene routine.

5. Medicated Mouthwashes Fight Gum Disease

If your gums are swollen, red, and sore, then it is likely that you are suffering from gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. You should visit your dentist for a check-up. Your dentist can prescribe a mouthwash that helps to fight inflammation and improve the health of your gums.