Author: Dr Shaochen Liu, Dermatology Registrar, Green Lane Hospital, Auckland. Chief Editor: Dr Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, February 2016.

What is a mouthwash?

A mouthwash is a solution used to rinse the oral cavity. This may be to maintain oral hygiene, to prevent dental plaque, or for symptomatic relief.

A mouthwash is sometimes called a mouth rinse.

Who needs a mouthwash?

A mouthwash may be used short-term for a variety of conditions. Some examples follow.

A fluoride-containing mouthwash may be used to reduce the risk of cavities / dental caries.

What do mouthwashes contain?

Mouthwashes contain a variety of ingredients. The active ingredients include:

How do mouthwashes work?

The active ingredients in mouthwashes act in several ways.

How to use a mouthwash

Mouthwash is typically used twice-daily, as a short-term adjuvant to toothbrushing.

What are the adverse effects of mouthwash?

The adverse effects of mouthwash depend on its ingredients, and include:

Adverse effects of chlorhexidine make it unsuitable for long-term use:

Benzydamine has local anaesthetic and analgesic properties. It can cause:

Ethanol associated side-effects may occur with mouthwashes containing essential oils.

Other reported adverse effects follow

Contraindications and precautions


Related information

Make a donation

Donate Today!