For most of us, we tend to keep our oral hygiene rituals relatively simple. Often we stop at brushing and flossing our teeth, making it easy to overlook key steps we could be missing. One important addition that gets overlooked is mouthwash.

By routinely using mouthwash, you can greatly improve your oral health and smile. But for such a simple step, there are many questions people have on how to best use it. Should you rinse before or after you brush? Does it matter what kind you choose? Should you use a mouthwash that contains alcohol?

To help clear up common myths and general questions, we have created a guide to break it down for you how to get your mouthwash habits on the right track.

Follow these tips from your Washington D.C. dentist for a cleaner (and potentially cavity-free) mouth.

Types of Mouthwash

Mouthwash can be used for a variety of reasons. Some mouthwashes freshen your breath, while others prevent and control tooth decay, reduce plaque, and prevent gingivitis. Choosing the right mouthwash depends on what your needs are and what you’re looking to gain. With such a wide array of mouthwashes to choose from, it’s important to find the right fit for you.

Cosmetic Mouthwash

While cosmetic mouthwash doesn’t kill the odor-causing bacteria that causes bad breath or increase tooth strength, it does control and reduce bad breath. Also, cosmetic mouthwash rinses away any lingering food particles and leaves your mouth with a refreshed, minty feeling.

As useful as they are, cosmetic rinses are more limited compared to other options, as they don’t prevent cavities from forming and will only mask bad breath temporarily. If bad breath or acquiring cavities are big factors for you, you may want to consider a therapeutic mouthwash.

Therapeutic Mouthwash

Where cosmetic mouthwashes just scratch the surface, therapeutic rinses pick up the slack. Therapeutic rinses offer all the same benefits of a cosmetic rinse, but can also help you prevent gingivitis that can lead to gum disease, reduce plaque buildup, and lessen your chances of cavities.

So, now that you have the facts get swishing away after your brush. Keep your smile healthy and bright for many years.