Rinse, gargle, spit.

Many people use mouthwashes as part of their oral hygiene routine. But how much do you know about this rinsing agent, other than the fact that it comes in lots of colours? Mouthwash can help keep your gums and teeth healthy, but only if you use them properly. We’ve got expert tips on boosting the benefits of mouthwashes. Check out these four mouthwash myths and see how your rinse know-how compares.

Myth 1: All mouthwashes are made equal
The benefits from using a mouthwash depend largely on the type of product used. Rinsing with a mouthwash will loosen bits of food from your teeth, lessen bacteria in your mouth, temporarily reduce bad breath and leave a refreshing taste in your mouth. But these products can’t make any greater claim than that.
Mouthwashes like Colgate Fluoriguard, Listerine and Sensodyne Pronamel contain more fluoride than other less expensive mouthwash. These have been proven to reduce plaque or fight cavities.

Myth 2: Mouthwash cures bad breath
Mouthwash may temporarily curtail stinky breath, but it’s not a permanent fix. Smelly compounds from your garlicky lunch, for example, are actually coming from your lungs as you exhale, so freshening your mouth won’t help for long. Your saliva can work against you too. Saliva dilutes mouthwash. In some cases, the proteins in saliva can reduce the effectiveness of mouthwash ingredients.

Myth 3: Mouthwash can replace brushing
Mouthwash can cut back the level of bacteria in your mouth, but it will not last all day. You still have to do your cleaning and brushing. Regular flossing and brushing with a medium headed toothbrush will do a much more effective job of removing plaque and debris than mouthwash alone. Research shows that adding a rinse with mouthwash to your oral care routine can in fact improve the overall cleanliness of your mouth and help keep gum inflammation at bay. But mouthwash is usually considered an add-on, not a replacement for brushing and flossing.

Myth 4: A little swish will do
Do you gargle or rinse for a few quick seconds, then spit? Most mouthwashes are at their most effective when in contact with your mouth tissues for 30 seconds per use. But despite best intentions, some people say mouthwash is so strong or stings so much that it’s difficult to use for that long. (There’s even a Facebook group for folks who fail to keep mouthwash in their mouth for half a minute). Mouthwash should be used as directed by the manufacturer.