Dentist Questions Mouthwash

How often should I mouthwash?

I want to start using mouthwash, but I'm not really sure of how often should I do it. I don't want to do it too much, but I don't want to do it too little. How many times a day do you recommend?

13 Answers

Twice a day
I recommend using mouthwash after brushing. Therefore, twice a day.
It depends on why you are using the mouthwash. Most people who floss and brush properly don’t need a mouthwash.
Twice a day should be fine
First let me state that in my practice, often I give exams on patients of record for an entire month without finding a single cavity. My patients simply do not get cavities. It is not by accident. My team and I spend an enormous amount of time teaching prevention because we believe that nature is the best dentist. What I tell them is this: 1. Use an electric toothbrush two minutes daily, 2. Floss at least every other day, 3. Avoid carbohydrates between meals including fruits, grains, dairy and starches, 4. Have your teeth cleaned and examined twice yearly. Typically I only mention mouthwashes in unusual situations. For example patients who have had dental implants should rinse with an antibiotic mouthwash daily. This would be either chlorhexidine or Tooth and Gum Tonic. For patients with uncontrolled tooth decay such as those with diabetes or prediabetes I recommend a mouthrinse with fluoride such as Fluorigard, ACT or Listerine purple. For all others who want to use mouthwashes I suggest after you have done the above prevention routine, rinse once or twice daily or as needed for fresher breath.
Using mouthwash can be done several times per day if you feel the need. Mouthwash will not keep your teeth clean and should not replace brushing and flossing but does work well for helping your breath feel fresh and smell good. There are different types of mouthwash and typically the recommendation is to use one that does not contain alcohol.

Your oral concerns should be considered when determining frequency and type of mouthwash. Some of the considerations are whether patient is prone to decay and/or has many fillings, has gum disease or prone to it, as well as hygiene habits, skill and ability to effectively remove plaque. A dental check up can provide you with this information. That being said, for the average person rinsing once a day with an alcohol free mouthwash will suffice. Happy Rinsing!
Usually once a day is adequate. I recommend using a mouthrinse with fluoride in it. Ex. Act, Listerine with fluoride, check the labeling.
It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you have gum disease, rinsing twice a day, once after breakfast and once before you get in bed is best. If you have chronic bad breath from post nasal drip, you might want to rinse 3 times a day...or more. Make sure you brush your tongue, too, as it often has lots of bacteria on it. Listerine rinse has essential oils in it that others don't. It's my favorite to prescribe, but there are a number of good ones.
If you're brushing and flossing properly 2x/day, you may not even need to use mouthwash. Mouthwash is not a necessary step in good oral care. But if it's something you prefer to use, go for it!

What is too much? If you're using a mouthwash without alcohol, use as much as you want. The problem with alcohol is that (1) it tends to dry your mouth out over time and so could make thing worse, and (2) excessive daily alcohol exposure in your mouth comes with a very, very, slight increase in oral cancer.
In answer to your question, since most mouthwash formulations contain a significant  amount of alcohol, I would use it once or twice daily.  If you use it more, the alcohol will desiccate your oral tissues and set you up for trouble.

Hope this helps.
Steven Chamish, DDS
Normally, I recommend that my patients use mouthwash in the morning and evening. Twice per day. Regardless of the product, swish around for 45-60 seconds before spitting out to get the full benefit of the product.
Using a mouthwash allows you to remove more of the plaque. You can do it twice a day.