This blog series continues and features Q & A's with our hygienists. Proper home care, regular dental visits and education are the cornerstones of healthy smiles. Hopefully, the insight from our hygiene team will provide you some helpful tips.

Photo by  Colin Knowles

Photo by Colin Knowles

Q. What would you advise patients concerning the use of mouthwash?

Michele: Mouthwash cannot clean as effectively as brushing and/or flossing. In fact, using it alone does little to no good for reducing your risk of cavities or gum disease.  

Heather: And although mouthwash is a great aid in removing free-floating bacteria in the mouth, plaque is similar to double-sided tape in that it sticks to the tooth and is sticky on the outside which helps the bacteria to collect on the tooth.

The only way to remove this plaque is by mechanically removing it with a toothbrush and floss, then rinsing with mouthwash to remove any remaining (free-floating) bacteria. 

Kelly: I always let my patients know that mouthwash is a great partner to brushing and flossing but not a solo act. Brushing is removing the plaque and bacteria from the tooth surface and flossing cleans in between the teeth where the bristles cannot reach.

Mouthwash is unable to do this. Also when choosing a mouthwash, choose one that fits your specific needs. For example Crest Pro Health and Listerine both are made to kill the germs that cause plaque, gingivitis and bad breath. Listerine contains alcohol while Crest does not. Excessive use of alcohol based mouthwash has been linked with mouth ulcers and oral pain.

Dr. P: There is nothing that can replace brushing two minutes every morning and two minutes every night. The idea that if you are running late in the morning and plan to just swish with mouth rinse as a substitute for brushing is like putting lipstick on a pig! 

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