Most of us know that brushing and flossing our teeth is as important as showering, but is mouthwash necessary, too? No, at least according to one expert dentist.
"The biggest bang for your buck is brushing your teeth and seeing your dentist regularly," Lance Vernon, a former senior instructor at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine told Apartment Therapy. "If you can do these things, you're lowering your risk for tooth decay and gum disease."
The problem with mouthwash, according to Dr. Vernon, is that people think mouthwash is a replacement for brushing — and it’s definitely not. The reason: "Gingivitis comes when you don't clean your teeth where the tooth meets the gum," Vernon said. "The plaque accumulates on the gum line, which can become inflamed and swollen."
Is mouthwash necessary ever?
Vernon puts it this way: "Brushing for five seconds would be more helpful than mouth rinse."
Kids shouldn’t use mouthwash, either, according to the American Dental Association, but it can be helpful to quickly freshen breath and reduce conditions like oral thrush.
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If you do buy it, look for an alcohol-free version. "Alcohol will dry the tissue [in your mouth]," Vernon told the website.
Do we really need to floss?
The answer to "is mouthwash necessary?" is maybe, but flossing should always be part of your oral care routine (sorry).
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services quietly left flossing out of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, leading many to assume that meant daily flossing is no longer necessary.
However, the HHS and the ADA later issued a statement saying that flossing is "an important oral hygiene practice," and leaving it out of the guidelines doesn’t mean otherwise.
Another 2016 investigation by the Associated Press couldn’t find any conclusive evidence that flossing provides benefits. And the American Academy of Periodontology agreed.
"Much of the current evidence does not utilize a large sample size or examine gum health over a significant amount of time," the AAP said at the time. "Additionally, many of the existing studies do not measure true markers of periodontal health such as inflammation or clinical attachment loss [when a tooth becomes less connected to the jawbone]."
But still: "In the absence of quality research, patients should continue to include flossing as a part of their daily oral hygiene habit."
Flossing gets the food particles between teeth that normal brushing doesn’t get. Left behind, these food particles and bacteria mix with saliva to create enamel-eroding plaque.
So, is mouthwash necessary? Not necessarily, but brushing and flossing always is.