If mouthwash commercials are to be believed, you just swish it around for a few minutes and all your oral hygiene is taking care of: it both fights bad breath and prevents cavities. But is this claim too good to be true? Does a quick rinse with minty-tasting fluid really improve your oral health routine dramatically? Can it even take the place of either brushing or flossing? If you’ve ever wondered what sort of things brushing can do for you, this blog is for you.

Man Pouring Bottle Of Mouthwash Into Cap

Protecting Against Gum Disease

Tooth decay and gum disease are both caused by bacteria in your mouth the feeds of particles of sugar and simple starch. One of the reasons toothbrushing is one of our most effective tools in fighting gum disease, is because it eliminates food particles before they become plaque and then tartar. The boon of mouthwash comes from its ability to clean hard-to-reach places along the gum line. This effectively neutralizes bacteria and food particles in one routine. Also, if your mouthwash contains fluoride, it can help to remineralize damaged enamel so your teeth can put up a better fight against tooth decay.

While this all sounds perfect, don’t throw away your toothbrush or floss just yet. Mouthwash can be an effective oral hygiene partner, but brushing and flossing are still crucial. Same thing with cleanings and checkups every six months.

Does Mouthwash Cure Bad Breath?

Halitosis, also known as bad breath, is a common symptom among older Americans — almost half the population of the United States — but is mouthwash the best cure for this problem? Like most things, the answer is nuanced. Mouthwash can kill off bad-breath causing bacteria, as well as masking smell with its scent. But if bad breath is caused by a larger issue like gingivitis or advanced gum disease, mouthwash will be ineffective. Gum disease treatment is the only solution to gum disease. It won’t go away on its own, and it could seriously affect your overall health, increasing your chances of heart disease, stroke, and even diabetes. Before adding mouthwash to your routine, consider scheduling an appointment with your local dentist to screen for gum disease and treat it before it threatens your other teeth.

Be Careful With Mouthwash Brands

Much like with the coconut floss or alternative toothpastes, some made out of downright dangerous materials, you should be careful when choosing the right mouthwash. Many will be designed to mask smells by including alcohol as an active ingredient, which can increase your chances of some oral cancers. In addition, these mouthwashes can dehydrate the mouth and allow bacteria populations to bounce back quickly. Other mouthwashes may only be “cosmetic,” containing only breath-freshening ingredients, which have little oral health value.

Look for mouthwash the contains fluoride to help remineralize your teeth, and control the population of bacteria inside your mouth. There are several alcohol-free options.

If you would like to learn more about what make Dr. Morrell and Dr. Kendall your best choice for a general dentist in Anchorage, please call (907) 274-7691 today for an appointment at Denali Dental Care.