Mouthwash Helps With Good Oral Hygiene But Doesn’t Replace It

added on: November 3, 2014

I was recently reminded of when Jessica Simpson announced on an Ellen episode that she brushes her teeth “maybe three times a week.” Simpson said she uses Listerine and flosses everyday and uses “a shirt or something” to wipe her teeth. Claiming her breath is fresh, she feels her mouth has been adequately cleaned.

Being in the dental field, this attitude is shocking. Failing to adhere to proven preventive measures of twice-daily brushing, flossing and 6-month checkups and cleanings is a recipe for a long list of oral problems to come.

Plaque is the sticky film of bacteria that clings to teeth and gums. If not removed within 24 hours, bacteria begin to attack supporting bone and gum tissue around teeth. As plaque accumulates, calculus (also known as tartar), forms on teeth. Calculus is the hard substance that can only be removed by a dental professional using special tools.

The added bacteria of calculus broadens the attack on tooth surfaces and gum tissues, moving you into the first stage of periodontal disease, Gingivitis. Untreated, this can lead to advanced gum disease, which is the nation’s leading cause of adult tooth loss.

Frequent use of mouthwash because of bad breath reveals an underlying problem that should be addressed sooner than later. Persistent bad breath is a sign of gum disease, which will only worsen without treatment. Additionally, when bacteria enter the bloodstream through tears in diseased gum tissue, it can trigger inflammation elsewhere in the body. The bacteria of periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, memory loss, preterm babies and even impotency.

If you’d like to add an oral rinse to your oral hygiene routine at home, ask for a recommendation that contains fluoride or antimicrobial agents to get the best benefit. However, twice daily brushing and flossing, combined with 6-month dental check-ups, is a necessary part of having and maintaining a healthy mouth, with or without an oral rinse.

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