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April, 2022

Can Mouthwash Be Used As An Alternative To Brushing?

Can Mouthwash be alternative to brushing

It’s the weekend. You have enjoyed a lovely dinner with your friends and family. You are back home, all tired, and wanting to hit the bed. But you know the drill - you got to brush before you rush to sleep. Are you thinking of using the mouthwash instead? 

Well, a lot of people like you consider mouthwash an alternative to brushing. Can mouthwash replace brushing? 

Mouthwash can be termed as a perfume for bad breath. Antibacterial properties in mouthwash keep your breath fresh and prevent bacteria in your mouth. However, it not only helps combat bad breath but also rinsing using a mouthwash can help you avoid cavities and gum disease. Fluoride content in mouthwash can aid in the prevention of tooth decay too.

Having said all the above, Mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing or flossing. A gargle of mouthwash cannot flush out food debris that is deep-stuck and neither can it remove the sticky plaque. But you can definitely add it to a good oral care regimen along with brushing and flossing. 

To understand why Mouthwash is not a substitute for brushing, let us first understand the most common ingredients found in mouthwash. 

Mouthwash Ingredients

These are some of the most common ingredients you will find in mouthwashes - But not all mouthwashes have all these ingredients in one. You will need to know the ingredients to know which one best suits your requirements - 

  • Fluoride: It aids in the prevention of cavities and the reduction of tooth decay. 

  • Antimicrobials: They eliminate the bacteria that cause bad breath, plaque, and gingivitis. 

  • Salt with astringent properties: It's a type of deodorizer that can mask bad breath for a short period of time. 

  • Neutralizers for odours: They have the ability to attack the source of bad breath. 

  • Peroxide and other bleaching agents: They can aid in the removal of stains from your teeth.

Here are some reasons why we think mouthwash cannot be used as an alternative to brushing - 

The good bacteria will be killed too 

Using mouthwash instead of brushing in the morning may appear to be a quick solution, especially if you are in a hurry. It's alright to replace it once in a while, but don't make it a habit. Antibacterial characteristics are found in most mouthwash formulations, and they are designed to destroy bacteria that cause plaque formation and bad breath. Using it daily can kill all the bacteria in your mouth, even the good ones. 

Our mouths are home to plenty of bacteria, some of which are very beneficial (including by keeping bad bacteria under control). When you rinse your mouth with mouthwash, you get rid of the bad bacteria, but you also get rid of the good bacteria that help the body work properly. 

If your mouthwash contains alcohol, using it more frequently than advised can result in an excessive amount of alcohol being introduced into your mouth, interrupting saliva production and leaving you with a dry mouth. A dry mouth attracts more bacteria and promotes poor breath, negating your attempts to maintain good oral hygiene. 

Mouthwash can mask underlying problems 

Bad breath could be a sign that something is amiss with your mouth. When you don't brush or floss as your dentist recommends, bacteria and plaque build-up, creating bad breath (along with other problems). While a short swish with mouthwash may freshen your breath, it does little to treat oral health issues. 

Chronic unpleasant breath could be a sign that something isn't quite right. Periodontal disease, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), sinus infections, and other issues can all cause bad breath. As a result of untreated periodontal disease, you're more likely to have a stroke, heart disease, and of course, tooth loss. 

Brushing your teeth with mouthwash or using mouthwash solely instead of brushing masks these problems - giving them more time to worsen. Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible if you have been suffering from chronic foul breath. 

Mouthwash cannot combat plaque 

Plaque builds up on your teeth and along the gum line when bacteria break down food particles. This filmy substance can cause bad breath. It can also lead to tooth decay and gum disease if it accumulates over a long period of time. Proper oral care requires getting rid of plaque before it causes an oral microbiome imbalance and destroys your teeth. 

Plaque is sticky, therefore brushing, cleaning, and using mouthwash on a regular basis are the best ways to get rid of it. Using mouthwash will remove some plaque but not all of it. Brushing will remove plaque from between your teeth and protect you against tooth decay, bad breath, and other oral health issues. 

How to use mouthwash effectively? 

  • Use only the recommended amount of mouthwash, as directed on the label or as directed by your dentist. 

  • Swish the mouthwash for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or as directed on the label, with your mouth closed. 

  • Do not swallow mouthwashes, it contains some harmful ingredients Therefore keep it out of reach of children and monitor them when they use it. 

  • To avoid rinsing away the fluoride and any helpful compounds, wait for 20 to 30 minutes after rinsing your mouth before drinking or eating, consuming alcohol, or smoking. 

Oral hygiene should be a regular part of your regimen. Mouthwash can be used either before or after brushing. Brushing and flossing help remove plaques, so mouthwash can function as an extra oral aid. Just be careful not to overuse it, and never use mouthwash instead of brushing your teeth. Choosing the best long-term habits will help you keep your teeth healthier for longer. Using mouthwash instead of brushing and flossing your teeth may appear to be a more convenient option, but it actually causes more harm than good.

Can mouthwash be alternative to brushing?

At times, brushing your teeth just with mouthwash is not sufficient. If you need help deciding when to use mouthwash or what kind you should use, consult our top oral hygienist in Bangalore they can help you!




Dr Balasubramanya K.V

HOD & Senior Consultant - Periodontics

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