December 18, 2023

The Importance of Mouthrinse (Mouthwash)


While not a replacement for daily brushing and flossing, use of mouthrinse (also called mouthwash) may be a helpful addition to the daily oral hygiene routine for some people. Like interdental cleaners, mouthrinse offers the benefit of reaching areas not easily accessed by a toothbrush. The question of whether to rinse before or after brushing may depend on personal preference; however, to maximize benefit from the oral care products used, manufacturers may recommend a specific order for their use, depending on ingredients.

Types of Mouthrinse

Broadly speaking, there are two types of mouthrinse: cosmetic and therapeutic.  Cosmetic mouthrinses may temporarily control bad breath and leave behind a pleasant taste, but have no chemical or biological application beyond their temporary benefit. For example, if a product doesn’t kill bacteria associated with bad breath, then its benefit is considered to be solely cosmetic. Therapeutic mouthrinses, by contrast, have active ingredients intended to help control or reduce conditions like bad breath, gingivitis, plaque, and tooth decay.

  • Use prescription mouth rinses as directed (i.e., dose, frequency, time in mouth). If a dose is missed, use the rinse as soon as possible; doubling the dose will have no therapeutic effect.1
  • With over-the-counter products, look for mouth rinses that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance. The Seal shows that a company has provided data demonstrating that a product is safe and effective for the purpose claimed.
  • Using a mouthrinse does not take the place of optimal brushing and flossing.  Mouthrinses may offer additional benefit in terms of reducing the risk of bad breath, cavities, or gum disease; or for relief of dry mouth or pain from oral sores.

The ADA Seal

Look for the ADA Seal—your assurance that the product has been objectively evaluated for safety and efficacy by an independent body of scientific experts, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. A company earns the ADA Seal for mouthrinse by producing scientific evidence demonstrating the safety and efficacy of its product, which is evaluated according to the objective requirements related to their claims.

Manufacturers of all types of mouthrinse who apply for the Seal must demonstrate that their products adhere to FDA regulations and meet the ANSI/ADA or ISO Standards for Oral Care products (wherever applicable).


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