Mouthwash: When and how to use it

Mouthwash: When and how to use it

Mouthwash seems to be the lesser utilised friend of the oral hygiene routine. But, like flossing, it is a very useful step to integrate into your daily ablutions to ensure that you reach every intricate crevice inside your mouth.

Germs and bacteria hide in the nooks and crannies that cannot be reached using a conventional toothbrush, so taking a few extra, quick interventions is beneficial to ensure the minimum risk of infections, gum disease and cavities.

Some have called mouthwash ‘unnecessary’

Mouthwash is big business, and many products and brands promise everything from protection from 99% of bacteria and germs and even stronger teeth and fresher breath, reports Affinity Dental. But is it a necessity or a scam? Well, that all depends on why exactly you are using mouthwash.

Different mouthwash formulas use different amounts of certain chemicals in order to perform different tasks.

Anti-plaque mouthwash inhibits plaque accumulation, which helps to prevent gingivitis. Active ingredients present in antiseptic mouthwash are, among others, Thymol, Triclosan, Cetylpyridinium Chloride and Chlorhexidine.

Cosmetic mouthwash is created only to mask the smell of bad breath; these formulas are usually more affordable.

Mouthwash that has a bleaching agent, such as hydrogen peroxide also assists in whitening your teeth.

How do I use it?

Mouthwash should be used as part of your morning and night-time routine and can be used as an on-the-go breath freshener and cleaner (for when you can’t do the whole routine).

Certain brands may hold different instructions about how long to swoosh for etc, but in general, pour about a capful of the solution into your mouth and swirl it around for about 30 seconds. Be sure to move it through the gaps in your teeth and under your tongue.

Some mouthwashes contain essential oils like menthol (peppermint), eucalyptus and thymol (thyme) for their antifungal and antibacterial properties.

Some people may find the burning sensation caused by the mouth wash a bit too intense, so you may add a few drops of water to the capful to ease the minty tingle. Once your time is up, spit it out. Do not rinse your mouth after that. The properties in the mouthwash will work in your mouth as you go about your day.


You can also use salt water as an alternative to store-bought mouthwash. Saltwater doesn’t only clean the mouth of any residue but also kills any germs. Salt has natural antibacterial properties. Gargling a saltwater solution has long been known to aid in the treatment of many oral hygiene issues, including bad breath, swollen gums and plaque build-up.

Many people who suffer from swollen, tender gums also complain of loose teeth. After rinsing with a saltwater solution of one cup of warm water to one teaspoon of sea salt, many report tighter gums and a sturdier overall mouthfeel.

According to Health Line, the salt will help prevent the growth of bacteria in your mouth and help decrease the bacteria on your gums, which may be causing the swelling. Rinse with warm salt water at least twice a day until swelling subsides.

If you are using all of the known mouth cleaning interventions and are still experiencing pain, cavities or bad breath, it may be time to see your dentist. (To be fair, you should have a check-up of your teeth and gums at least every six months – just to ensure that everything is fine with your choppers.)

Having constant dental work can get pricey, though, but that is easily managed with a dental insurance plan.

Affinity Dental has three tiers of dental insurance available at different price points. Each of these options covers individual specialist work to various degrees. 

Adults and children need to visit the dentist at least twice a year, and these dental maintenance appointments can start to add up. Dental insurance will cover you for any additional treatments such as crowns, root canals or fillings, whether they are done at the dentist, or at a specialist practice.  

Usually, a dentist will refer you to a specialist, if needed. 

If you need to find an Affinity Dental-approved dentist in your area, click here. 

There are three tiers to choose from, all of which can be found on the official Affinity Dental website.

Benefits are subject to a three-month waiting period from the commencement date unless stated otherwise, and pre-existing conditions are subject to a 12-month waiting period from the commencement date across all three plans.

Affinity Dental plans do not substitute or replace a medical scheme, and the cover is not the same as that of a medical scheme. Subject to Demarcation Regulations, Affinity Dental does not refuse membership on the basis of any means of discrimination.

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