Which mouthwash should I use?

Bristol dentists explain the different types of mouthwashThere’s an ever-expanding and bewildering array of mouthwashes on the shelves nowadays, and they all make different claims. Here at CK Dental in Bristol, we receive a lot of enquires about the gargly stuff, so here’s a few things you need to know…

Therapeutic v cosmetic mouthwash

Mouthwashes fall into two categories. Cosmetic mouthwash (which is used solely for the freshening of the breath), and therapeutic mouthwash (which contains ingredients designed to fight oral bacteria).

If you’re just after the former, you don’t really need mouthwash – a stick of sugarless gum will suffice. If you’re after the optimum treatment with your mouthwash, you need to make sure you pick up the latter.


Many cosmetic mouthwashes trumpet the fact that they’re alcohol-free on the packaging, and usually contain astringent salts that will freshen the mouth – but won’t kill germs.

However, the new generation of mouthwashes are beginning to turn away from the hard stuff, as it dries out the mouth and can burn gum and cheek tissue, creating a whole new breeding ground for bacteria.

Antibacterial agents

If you want your mouthwash to put in serious work, this is the sort of element you need to have in your choice of brand. Even better if they contain germicides like cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) which fight plaque as well as take down bacteria and combat bad breath.


A no-brainer of an ingredient, to be honest.

When should I use mouthwash?

An easier question to answer would be; ‘When shouldn’t I use mouthwash?’, because if you’re using it directly after brushing your teeth, you won’t get the maximum benefit from either of them.

It’s always best to not rinse your mouth after brushing – either with water or mouthwash – because you want a film of toothpaste on your teeth for as long as possible. Get into the habit of leaving the toothpaste to do its work for a while before reaching for the mouthwash, or – even better – use mouthwash after meals if you haven’t the time to brush.