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Should I Use Mouthwash? The Critical Steps For An At-Home Clean

My patients always ask me how they can maintain an excellent oral health care routine at home. Some are unaware of the many products and options at their disposal when cleaning their teeth and are unsure which steps in the teeth cleaning process are necessary

So, should you use mouthwash, and what are the critical steps for an at-home clean? Keep reading as you get the best information on at-home cleaning direct from a dental professional.

Is Mouthwash Necessary?

Most dentists recommend mouthwash, but it isn’t entirely necessary. If you brush your teeth and floss thoroughly twice a day, you can avoid using mouthwash. However, it is often favoured as it can help keep your breath fresh throughout the day. When we clean our teeth, we often neglect to clean the tongue and gums, which are areas in the mouth that can host bacteria, leading to bad breath.

There are several types of mouthwash – alcohol, antimicrobial, and antibacterial – and all kinds work to reduce bacteria in the mouth. Mouthwash can also help reduce bacteria in those hard-to-reach areas on your teeth, helping you avoid plaque buildup until your next professional tooth cleaning.

So, why wouldn’t you use mouthwash? Well, some people complain that mouthwash irritates their gums – particularly if you have ulcers or are prone to cheek-biting. Using a mouthwash containing alcohol can undoubtedly cause a burning sensation on any open wounds in the mouth. If you suffer from mouth ulcers or sores, you can switch to a milder alcohol-free mouthwash. Alternatively, ensure your brushing routine is thorough and do away with mouthwash altogether.

So, mouthwash isn’t necessary, but it can help keep your mouth clean and ensure your breath stays fresh throughout the day.

Should You Use Mouthwash After Brushing?

When you should use mouthwash is a widely contested topic. Some believe mouthwash is best after brushing the teeth to remove any debris and bacteria left behind in the brushing process. However, many dentists recommend using mouthwash before you brush your teeth. You can wash away the fluoride in toothpaste with mouthwash after brushing. Leaving fluoride on the surface of the teeth after brushing can help you keep your teeth white and benefit more from the brushing process.

Additionally, some experts recommend using mouthwash at a separate time from brushing your teeth. This way, you can benefit from the fluoride on your teeth, and you can rinse your mouth during the day to keep bacteria at bay and maintain great-smelling breath.

Critical Steps In At-Home Dental Cleaning

Now that you know why mouthwash is essential and the best time to use mouthwash, let’s take a look at some other critical steps in at-home dental cleaning. At-home dental hygiene is one of the essential preventative care steps, helping you hold onto your natural teeth later in life.

Brushing Your Teeth

This is the single most essential process in practising good oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth twice daily for around two minutes can significantly lower your risk of gingivitis, tooth decay, plaque, and tartar.

It’s best to brush your teeth with an electric toothbrush. Studies have shown that those who brushed their teeth with an electric toothbrush had healthier gums and teeth and had a much lower risk of losing their natural teeth. If the sensation of the electric toothbrush vibrations is unpleasant for you, however, you can always opt for a manual toothbrush.

If you are extremely sensitive to the bristles on a manual or electric toothbrush, opt for a softer brush or a flannel with toothpaste to rub the teeth and clean them. Even if you cannot brush your teeth with a toothbrush, you should try and clean them daily using the flannel method and get regular checkups and professional cleaning at your local Bentleigh East dentist.


Flossing is another essential step in the teeth cleaning process as your toothbrush can only access a portion of the teeth. The gaps between the teeth are hard to reach with a toothbrush, so you must floss to clean these areas.

These gaps can become home to tartar, plaque, and bacteria. If you do not floss these areas, bacteria will thrive – no matter how well or often you brush your teeth. There are many different choices when it comes to flossing:

  • Regular string floss – This floss is simply a mint-flavoured string that you can wrap around your fingers to clean between the teeth.
  • Floss sticks – Floss sticks are slightly more straightforward to use than regular string floss, as you do not have to keep the string. Floss sticks can have a string between two prongs, or they can take a brush and wire form.
  • Liquid flossing – In recent years, people have been adopting liquid flossing. This method involves a device that blasts sharp bursts of water and mouthwash between the teeth to uproot bacteria. This option is excellent for those with sensitive gums that bleed with flossing.

Tongue Cleaning

Tongue cleaning is essential for those who do not use mouthwash or struggle with bad breath. It is performed with a tongue scraper, and you should use this scraper to get rid of any residue on the tongue. As a more effective method of cleaning the mouth, it frees your tongue of any residue, staining, and bacteria. You can use a tongue scraper with mouthwash and toothpaste to clean the tongue thoroughly and ensure you have great-smelling breath throughout the day.

Dietary Oral Care

Watching what you eat is instrumental in ensuring your teeth retain whiteness and stay healthy. Certain foods can be highly damaging to the teeth: sugar aids the growth of bacteria in the mouth, while coffee, soda, and red wine can make your teeth yellow or discoloured. One of the best steps to keep your teeth healthy is to watch your diet and consume fewer foods damaging to your teeth. You should opt for sugar-free alternatives to your favourite foods and beverages and limit your consumption of staining foods.


Now that you know all of the best practices for at-home dental cleaning, you should equip yourself with the best dental tools and take your first step towards fresher breath and healthier teeth. If you implement all of the above techniques, you can ensure your natural teeth are healthy and avoid tooth loss down the line. If you want to have your teeth cleaned professionally, contact our friendly and attentive team at Verve Dental today.

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