Can Mouthwash Replace Dental Floss?

If you spend some time in the dental aisle of your local drugstore or supermarket, you may notice antiseptic mouthwashes claiming to kill germs that cause bad breath and tooth decay, which are so good that it can replace your daily dental flossing habit to fight dental plaque and gingivitis. Could this be true?

Let’s take a look. Antibacterial mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine gluconate stop the growth of bacteria and even help people suffering from an oral infection. These are also good for fighting halitosis (bad breath). This can help greatly if you are trying to cut down on plaque-causing bacteria that results in tooth decay and gum disease. But while a mouthwash can rinse away this debris in the mouth, it cannot actually loosen the debris stuck between the teeth and between the gums and gum line.

That is the job of your dental flossing routine! By scrubbing dental plaque off of a tooth’s surface you are breaking down the bacteria located within the microcosm of the bacterial film. Mouthwash can rinse away surface bacteria, but it cannot break down the bacteria inside the film. Used correctly, your dental flossing technique of sliding the floss along the full length of a tooth (and below the gum line) not only reaches the areas where mouthwash alone cannot, it can break up the film itself. Since bacterial colonies are what damage teeth and gums, you want to eliminate them.

We recommend the tried and true method of eliminating bacteria in the mouth. First, brush your teeth (and gums) with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Use a toothpaste with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of acceptance on it so that you know you are using a product that has been tested for safety and effectiveness. Don’t forget to clean your tongue to remove the bacterial coating off its surface, using your toothbrush or even a tongue scraper. After you clean each surface of the tooth and gums, floss the areas between the teeth and the gums and gum line which your toothbrush can’t reach. Wrap up your routine by rinsing your mouth with a mouthwash that kills any leftover germs, freshens your breath, or comes with fluoride to protect tooth enamel.

Taking good care of your oral health is the key to a beautiful smile. At Smiles Dental we encourage you to use the best tools available to help you achieve this. With a small investment of time and care, your smile can shine for a lifetime!