A Complete Guide on Mouthwash + The Myths and the Truths

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  • A Complete Guide on Mouthwash + The Myths and the Truths

    October 11, 2023 8 min read


    Mouthwash, a common product found in almost every household, has become a staple in dental care routines. I, too, have been using mouthwash for years, but recently, when I was doing research on mouthwashes, I stumbled upon a shocking revelation—I've been using it incorrectly all along! So, let's embark on a journey together to rediscover the proper usage and incredible benefits of mouthwash.

    Myth 1: Mouthwash should be used immediately after brushing

    I wonder how many of us, like me, have fallen into this habit. Well, it turns out that dentists frown upon this seemingly innocent practice!

    Here's why: toothpaste contains a higher concentration of fluoride (for instance, Oral-B Original Gum & Enamel Repair Toothpaste contains 1450ppm of fluoride per tube), and fluoride needs around 30 minutes to work its magic. Hence, the NHS recommends waiting at least half an hour after brushing before reaching for that refreshing mouthwash. Because when we use mouthwash immediately after brushing, it washes away the fluoride from our toothpaste—the very ingredient that shields and protects our pearly whites. Instead, we're left with a mouthwash containing a mere 220ppm of fluoride from the mouthwash (or even less! Depends on the mouthwash you’re using) to protect our teeth.

    Now, I know what you're thinking. Many of us brush our teeth right before we go to bed. And after an exhausting day of work, waiting for half an hour before using mouthwash seems like a lot to ask for. Is there a correct way to use mouthwash without tiring ourselves out? Well, before we delve into that, let's discuss whether using mouthwash is even necessary in the first place.

    Myth 2: Mouthwash is a must-use in our daily dental care routine

    Unlike brushing your teeth, using mouthwash is not an essential part of daily oral care. Surprising, isn't it? If your teeth are in good condition and you don't have any specific oral concerns, you can actually skip mouthwash and peacefully drift off to dreamland after brushing your teeth! But let’s not jump to the conclusion just yet, because that doesn't mean mouthwash doesn't have its own set of benefits.

    If you suffer from bad breath, tooth decay, periodontal disease, or have recently undergone oral surgery, then mouthwash is the knight in shining armor that can enhance your protection.

    Mouthwash helps to eliminate bad breath
    Mouthwash helps to eliminate bad breath

    There’s a diverse range of mouthwashes available on the market, each with its own functions. While fluoride mouthwashes are designed to prevent pesky cavities, there are also mouthwashes infused with chlorhexidine, specially crafted to lavish your gums with the care they deserve. Each of these mouthwashes could serve different dental problems, so choose wisely based on your personal needs!

    But wait, even if your oral health is top-notch, there's still room for mouthwash in your life. Let’s face it: we all have experienced morning breath to different degrees. And that’s when mouthwash comes to the rescue. Some mouthwashes come with a delightful minty or other pleasant flavors that give you a breath so fresh others would love having a chat with you!

    So, whether you're battling oral problems or simply seeking that extra burst of freshness, mouthwash has got your back. It's like a secret weapon you could use any day when you feel like it!

    When is the perfect time that we use mouthwash?

    If you can patiently wait for a solid half-hour or even longer after brushing your teeth, that’s perfect. This way, you can enjoy the ultimate protection by synergizing the powers of toothpaste and mouthwash throughout the night. But let's say waiting isn't your strong suit—when, then, is the best time to rinse your mouth with your favourite mouthwash?

    Apart from fortifying your defense, mouthwash also comes as an alternative when brushing your teeth isn’t the most convenient option for you. Imagine that you just had some stinky (but super delicious) food, like durian or excessive garlic before an important meeting. Now that’s when you desperately need a quick swoosh with a minty fresh mouthwash. Not only does it thwart the growth of bacteria and dental plaque build-up, but it also washes away any lingering food particles, and leaves your breath feeling as fresh as a summer breeze. Do carry a travel size bottle of mouthwash with you, so that you can revitalise your breath anytime and stay in the top-notch condition!

    Mouthwash gives you a fresher breath after a meal
    Swoosh whenever you need to refresh your breath!

    However, let's make one thing crystal clear: mouthwash should never, ever replace your morning and evening brushing and flossing routine. Dental plaque, tartar, and those sneaky food particles nestled between your teeth still have to be removed by mechanical force from brushing. So, remember, don't sacrifice your dental health just because it’s so convenient to rinse your mouth! Embrace mouthwash as a valuable ally, but remember to keep up with your regular dental hygiene practices for the ultimate smile that shines bright like a diamond.

    Read more about the correct way to brush your teeth: Think You Know How to Brush Your Teeth? Think Again

    How to use a mouthwash correctly?

    Now that we know when to use mouthwash, let's dive into the correct usage:

    1. Pour approximately 20ml (or the recommended amount specified on the packaging) of mouthwash into a cup. Unless you're dealing with concentrated mouthwash, there's no need to dilute it with water. Keep it full strength for maximum impact.

    1. Gargle for 30 seconds - 1 minute. Make sure to cover not only your upper and lower teeth but also and the entire oral cavity, ensuring it reaches every nook and cranny.

    1. Spit it out into the sink. Now, here's an important tip: do not rinse your mouth with water afterward. It could sting a bit when you’re new to using mouthwash, but you’ll soon get used to it. Rinsing with water may wash away those protective ingredients in the mouthwash. So, let those ingredients work their magic and resist the urge to rinse again.

    And now, a friendly reminder: Mouthwash is not appropriate for children under the age of 6. For our little ones, proper brushing techniques are sufficient to maintain oral hygiene. For children aged 6 and above, it is recommended that they use a children's mouthwash, and it's crucial for adults to supervise their use to prevent swallowing.

    Myth 3: Mouthwash has side effects so it’s not for everyone

    We cannot say this is totally a wrong statement, but this is indeed a very hasty generalisation that is actually undermining the benefits of mouthwashes. So this is what we’re gonna do: list out the possible side effects caused by specific ingredients in mouthwashes. And it’s up to you to decide whether or not you want to continue using your current mouthwash, because, as we mentioned earlier on, mouthwash is not compulsory in your dental routine!

    Fear not, for these symptoms are typically mild and pose little cause for concern. By simply adhering to the instructions on the packaging and using mouthwash in moderation, you can enjoy its benefits without worry. Now, let's delve into some of the ingredients found in mouthwash that may have side effects.

    Many refreshing mouthwashes contain alcohol. Prolonged use of alcohol-based mouthwash can lead to dryness and discomfort in the oral mucosa. If there's a wound in your mouth, you may also feel a tingling or burning sensation. Individuals with alcohol sensitivity are advised to steer clear of this type of mouthwash.

    However, it's worth mentioning that discomfort is usually caused by overusing mouthwash. Following the instructions on the packaging can help minimising all the side effects. Besides, these side effects are all temporary and reversible. As long as you avoid long-term use, there’s not much to worry about! Plus, a wide range of alcohol-free mouthwashes is readily available on the market, so you can still enjoy the benefits of mouthwash even if you are staying away from alcohol.

    Now, let's turn our attention to mouthwashes with anti-inflammatory properties, which often contain an ingredient called chlorhexidine. This component is highly effective in treating conditions like gingivitis and inflammation. However, it's important to note that long-term use of chlorhexidine may lead to tooth staining and could potentially affect your taste buds.

    Should you find yourself in need of this type of mouthwash, fret not—there's no need to be overly concerned. Don't let the fear of side effects deter you from treating those pesky diseases! Once your symptoms improve, you can stop using the chlorhexidine mouthwash. Rest assured, proper usage can effectively address your troublesome oral issues without bringing you the side effects. And if you still have lingering concerns, it's always wise to consult a dentist before diving into the world of mouthwash.

    Mouthwash Brand Recommendations


    When it comes to the most popular mouthwash brand in Hong Kong, it’s got to be Listerine. With a wide range of flavours available, you can be assured that there’s one for you.

    Listerine Cool Mint Mouthwash 600ml

    Listerine Cool Mint Mouthwash 600ml
    Listerine Cool Mint Mouthwash 600ml

    This is the product for mint lovers: Listerine Cool Mint Mouthwash will give you a long-lasting super fresh breath right from the morning! Kills 99.9% of bacteria and removes dental plaque for 24-hr dental protection.


    If you’re not a fan of super cooling mint, then you may want to try a milder, alcohol-free mouthwash from Oral-B. Oral-B mouthwashes with different properties are now available on Spot On.

    Oral-B 3D White Luxe Perfection Mouthwash 500ml

    Oral-B 3D White Luxe Perfection Mouthwash 500ml
    Oral-B 3D White Luxe Perfection Mouthwash 500ml

    Oral-B 3D White Luxe Perfection Mouthwash can brighten your teeth in 7 days! Not only does it help to remove stains, it also removes dental plaque and strengthens enamel when you rinse. Made in Germany, it’s safe and effective. Highly recommended to people who can’t go on with their day without a cup of tea or coffee!


    With a 150-year long history, Colgate is known for its effective results. What’s more is that Colgate products come with an affordable price. Users said that they are amazed how fresh their mouthwashes are, without giving off a burning sensation.

    Colgate Plax Mouthwash 250ml

    Colgate Plax Mouthwash 250ml
    Colgate Plax Mouthwash 250ml

    Enjoy a 10x longer cooling sensation than brushing alone! Free from alcohol, this Colgate Plax Mouthwash makes sure it’s mild and gentle to the mouth. Added with fluoride, it helps to prevent cavity, tooth staining and tartar build-up.


    Corsodyl is specifically developed to improve gum problems, providing relief to symptoms such as bleeding gums and swollen gums, as well as preventing gingivitis from progressing to periodontal disease. If your gum bleeds after you brush, you’ll need a bottle of Corsodyl! However, if you do not have the above symptoms, you can go on with other mouthwashes that do not contain chlorhexidine for your daily oral care.

    Corsodyl Mint Mouthwash 300ml (Gingivitis Aid)

    Corsodyl Mint Mouthwash 300ml (Gingivitis Aid)
    Corsodyl Mint Mouthwash 300ml (Gingivitis Aid)

    With 0.2% chlorhexidine digluconate, this Corsodyl Mint Mouthwash is designed to treat gingivitis, mouth ulcers, oral thrush and other inflammatory symptoms. It also helps to speed up gum recovery after dental surgery or treatment! No irritation even on wounds. All that it takes is 10ml per rinse!


    Maybe not as well known, but Aquafresh is even more affordable than the brands we mentioned, and it’s no less effective! Aquafresh mouthwashes are mild with a pleasant flavor. Suitable for children aged 6+

    Aquafresh Extra Fresh Mouthwash 500ml

    Aquafresh Extra Fresh Mouthwash 500ml
    Aquafresh Extra Fresh Mouthwash 500ml

    Made in UK, Aquafresh Extra Fresh Mouthwash provides sugar acid protection to people who have a sweet tooth! With its anti-bac and enamel strengthening properties, it protects your teeth against cavity. Suitable for children aged 6+, even if your little ones missed out some teeth when they brush, this mouthwash acts as a backup plan!

    So there you have it—the secret to correct mouthwash usage and some recommendations to the best mouthwashes from Spot On. You'll be well on your way to a fresher, more invigorated oral experience!

    Disclaimer: The information provided in the article should not be regarded as a substitute for professional/medical advice. Please seek medical help if your symptoms worsen.

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