Can Mouthwash Replace Brushing? A Dentist Explains

No, mouthwash cannot replace brushing as it lacks the mechanical action necessary to physically remove plaque and food particles from your teeth and gums.

While mouthwash can temporarily freshen breath and kill some bacteria in our mouths, it cannot thoroughly clean all surfaces like brushing can.

Essentially, brushing with nano hydroxyapatite toothpaste helps to scrub away plaque, food debris, and bacteria, which helps prevent tooth decay.

Additionally, brushing stimulates saliva production, which aids in neutralizing acids and remineralizing tooth enamel. Mouthwash can be a useful adjunct to brushing and flossing, but you shouldn't rely on it as a substitute for proper oral hygiene practices.

In this article, you'll learn everything you need to know about mouthwash and why it cannot replace brushing your teeth.

What is mouthwash?

A bottle of SWISH Mouthwash

Mouthwash is a liquid dental product that helps clean and freshen your mouth.

It may contain active ingredients like antibacterial agents (for example, neem oil and licorice extract) or fluoride to improve dental health by:

  • reducing plaque buildup

  • reducing the risk of gingivitis

  • dislodging food and odor-causing bacteria from hard-to-reach places

  • and fighting tooth decay.

While mouth rinse helps reach areas that brushing and flossing miss, it isn't a substitute for brushing with nano hydroxyapatite toothpaste and flossing with expandable floss.

Think of it more like a helpful addition to your oral hygiene routine than a replacement.

How does mouthwash work?

Mouthwash generally works by killing germs and harmful bacteria in your mouth, leaving you with clean and fresh breath.

Although mouthwash is not a replacement for regular brushing and flossing, using certain types of mouthwash twice a day every day can provide:

  • bacterial control

  • fresh breath

  • plaque prevention

  • gingivitis prevention

  • and convenience!

Adding an alkaline mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine helps keep your mouth clean by getting into the hard-to-reach places that your toothbrush and dental floss might miss.

The best mouthwashes avoid alcohol (ethanol), which can cause burning sensation and sensitivity.

Benefits of Mouthwash

A woman holding a bottle of SWISH Mouthwash

Using mouthwash is necessary and may offers many oral health benefits, including:

  1. Freshening breath: Studies suggest that mouthwash can help freshen breath by killing the bacteria that cause chronically bad breath.

  2. Removing food debris: Swishing with mouthwash after brushing and flossing can help carry away leftover food particles, providing a deeper clean.

  3. Protection from tooth decay: Many mouthwashes contain ingredients like nano hydroxyapatite which can help kill bacteria that cause tooth decay and strengthen tooth enamel.

  4. Reducing sensitivity: Prescription mouthwashes with higher fluoride levels can minimize tooth sensitivity by blocking sensitive areas of the teeth.

  5. Fighting dry mouth: Some oral rinses can help stimulate the production of saliva, keeping the mouth moist and reducing dry mouth symptoms. 

  6. Whitens teeth: Certain mouthwashes contain whitening ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, which has been shown to safely and effectively brighten teeth.

In addition to these benefits, using mouthwash daily, in combination with regular brushing and flossing, can help maintain optimal oral health.

Why do we brush our teeth?

We brush our teeth primarily to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent dental problems.

By brushing our teeth regularly, we can effectively remove plaque buildup and prevent the formation of harmful dental biofilm. It serves as a preventive measure against gum disease which can otherwise irritate and inflame our gums and, in serious cases, cause tooth loss.

It also contributes to the freshness of our breath by eliminating lingering food particles and bacteria. Additionally, it helps to lift surface stains caused by certain foods, beverages such as tea, coffee, wine, and habits like smoking.

Moreover, brushing is crucial for remineralization, strengthening tooth enamel and warding off decay. By sticking to a regular brushing routine, we're ensuring our mouths stay healthy and our smiles bright.

Overall, brushing our teeth is a simple yet crucial part of maintaining good oral health and overall health. We recommend to brush at least twice a day, using nano hydroxyapatite toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush, and to also clean between the teeth with expandable floss to ensure thorough plaque removal.

Why can't mouthwash replace brushing?

A jar of NOBS Toothpaste Tablets and a bottle of SWISH Mouthwash

Mouthwash cannot replace brushing due to its limitations.

Unlike brushing, which physically removes plaque and debris from the teeth and gums, mouthwash lacks remineralizing agents crucial for enamel health and is less effective at disrupting biofilm, preventing plaque buildup, and averting tartar formation.

While mouthwash can freshen breath and reduce oral bacteria temporarily, it doesn't provide the mechanical action required for thorough plaque removal or the physical disruption of biofilm.

To maximize mouthwash benefits, we recommend to use it after tongue scraping, flossing, and brushing as part of a comprehensive oral care routine.

However, brushing remains indispensable for optimal oral hygiene as it targets all areas of your mouth, stimulates the gums, and maintains overall oral health.

Using Mouthwash vs Brushing Your Teeth

A man swishing mouthwash and a man brushing teeth

When comparing using mouthwash and brushing your teeth, it's essential to understand their respective roles in oral hygiene.

Brushing is a fundamental practice that targets plaque removal, protects tooth enamel, and prevents tooth decay and gum disease. It's effective at reaching all areas of the mouth, including the gum line where plaque tends to accumulate.

On the other hand, using mouthwash offers additional benefits such as freshening breath, promoting a clean feeling in the mouth, and reaching areas that may be challenging to clean with a toothbrush. Mouthwash can also temporarily reduce oral bacteria.

However, it's crucial to note that while mouthwash can be a valuable addition to your oral care routine, it is not a substitute for brushing. Mouthwash is less effective at removing plaque compared to brushing, and plaque that remains can harden into tartar, leading to oral health issues.

Ultimately, the best approach to oral hygiene involves a combination of both brushing and using mouthwash. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, preferably after meals, ensures thorough clean and freshness.

How to Use Mouthwash Correctly

A man thinking how to use mouthwash correctly

Mouthwash is good for you, but you have to know how to use it properly. Here's a simple process you can follow anytime your breath needs a quick refresh:

Step 1: Pick up some SWISH Mouthwash

Step 2: Shake well before using

Step 3: Measure the right amount, about 20mL

Step 4: Swish for about 30 seconds

Step 5: Spit it out in the sink! No need to rinse.

Just a quick note: make sure to brush your teeth properly with nano hydroxyapatite toothpastetongue scrape it and use expandable dental floss as usual when you incorporate alcohol free mouthwash into your routine.

Mouthwash should supplement your current dental care, not replace it!

Further, while some people prefer use mouthwash first, we always recommend using mouthwash after brushing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it OK to use mouthwash instead of brushing at night?
No, it is not okay to use mouthwash instead of brushing at night. Brushing is essential for removing plaque and food particles from teeth, which mouthwash alone cannot accomplish. Skipping brushing can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. Therefore, it is important to maintain a regular brushing routine for optimal oral hygiene.

Is it OK to use mouthwash instead of toothpaste?
No, it is not okay to use mouthwash instead of toothpaste. While mouthwash can help freshen breath and kill some bacteria, it does not effectively remove plaque and food debris from teeth like toothpaste does. Toothpaste contains abrasives that physically scrub the teeth, along with fluoride to strengthen enamel and prevent cavities. Therefore, using toothpaste is essential for maintaining proper oral hygiene.

What would happen if you only use mouthwash?
If you only use mouthwash and do not brush your teeth, you would not effectively remove plaque, food debris, and bacteria from the surface of your teeth. This could lead to an increased risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. Additionally, mouthwash alone may not provide enough nano hydroxyapatite to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Therefore, relying solely on mouthwash for oral hygiene is not recommended and may result in poor dental health outcomes.

Does mouthwash count for brushing?
No, mouthwash does not count as brushing. While mouthwash can help freshen breath and kill some bacteria, it does not effectively remove plaque, food debris, and more bacteria from the surface of the teeth like brushing does. Brushing is essential for maintaining proper oral hygiene as it physically removes these substances, helping to prevent tooth decay, cavities, and gum disease. Therefore, it is important to brush your teeth in addition to using mouthwash for optimal dental health.

Why do dentists say not to use mouthwash?
Dentists do not recommend using mouthwash alone without complementing it with flossing and brushing. This is because mouthwash alone may not effectively remove plaque, food debris, and bacteria from the teeth and gums, which can lead to dental issues such as tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, they often recommend avoiding mouthwash with alcohol as it can cause dry mouth, irritation, and increase the risk of oral cancer. Therefore, while mouthwash can be a helpful addition to oral care routines, it should not substitute regular brushing and flossing.

Swish Mouthwash
Swish Mouthwash
Swish Mouthwash
Swish Mouthwash
Swish Mouthwash
Swish Mouthwash
Swish Mouthwash
Swish Mouthwash
Swish Mouthwash
Swish Mouthwash

Swish Mouthwash

Regular price$20
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Immerse yourself in the revitalizing freshness of our latest formulation, Swish. A testament to biöm's unwavering commitment to holistic health and well-being. Harnessing the potent benefits of mother nature, our mouthwash combines science and nature's bounty to deliver a unique solution for impeccable oral hygiene and lasting fresh breath.

Bottled at 16 fl oz, our herbal mouthwash formula takes the best of what nature has to offer:

Neem and Licorice Extracts: Used for centuries in traditional medicine, these power-packed botanicals promote oral health by combating harmful bacteria and providing natural anti-inflammatory benefits.

Spearmint and Peppermint Essential Oils: Long-lasting freshness is no longer a dream. These cooling natural oils ensure you'll enjoy a pleasant, long-lasting minty freshness that truly invigorates.

Xylitol and Stevia: We've incorporated these natural sweeteners to provide an enjoyable, refreshing taste without any guilt – they actually help in maintaining a healthy pH balance in your mouth!

Aloe Vera Juice: Say goodbye to the harsh, drying effect of traditional mouthwashes. Our formula includes these natural moisturizing agents for a comfortable rinse that leaves your mouth feeling hydrated.

Not just that, our formula is as kind to the Earth as it is to your mouth:

❖ Free from harsh chemicals and artificial preservatives

❖ Cruelty-free and vegan

❖ Eco-friendly packaging


Shake well before use. Swish approximately one tablespoon of mouthwash in your mouth for about 30 seconds, then spit it out.

Experience the biöm difference today – because your oral health is a reflection of your overall wellness.