Practicing good oral hygiene is crucial for your teeth and health. Maintaining a good oral care routine is not difficult, it only involves brushing your teeth twice a day, rinsing your mouth with mouthwash, flossing regularly and visiting your dentist for oral exams and professional cleaning.

If you do not develop these habits, you are at risk for gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss and other health problems like heart disease, strokes, and even dementia.

The Case For Flossing

Flossing is said to be one of the most important aspects of good oral care. According to some dental health professionals, flossing might even be much more effective than brushing your teeth.

Flossing works to remove food debris and plaque build-up from areas around the gum line, between the teeth and hard to reach areas of the mouth. Neglecting to remove this buildup may cause the plaque to harden into tartar which irritates the tissue and leads to gum disease and other oral infections.

Flossing before brushing the teeth also allows the bristles of the toothbrush to reach and clean the areas between the teeth where the plaque would normally be.

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According to the American Dental Association (ADA), ” interdental cleaners such as floss are an essential part of taking care of your teeth and gums. Cleaning between teeth removes plaque that can lead to cavities or gum disease from the areas where a toothbrush can’t reach. Interdental cleaning is proven to help remove debris between teeth that can contribute to plaque build up.”

Flossing is an aspect of oral health care, and it has benefits that can not be ignored. Gum disease eats away at your gum and teeth; flossing helps to prevent this problem.
What About Mouthwash?

A lot of people include mouthwash as part of their oral care routine, mostly because it is easier to rinse your mouth with mouthwash than to brush your teeth and floss, it also saves a lot of time. Using mouthwash is a great way to care for the teeth, especially when you combine it with brushing, interdental cleaners, and visits to the dentist.

The mouth, teeth, gums, cheeks, tongue and even the lips all house an incredible amount of bacteria, both good and bad. When you consume food, the bacteria reacts with the sugar in the food to form plaque.

The bacteria produces toxins that cause plaque, gingivitis, bad breath and eventual tooth loss.The actions of brushing your teeth and flossing help to remove some of these bacteria from the surfaces of the teeth and spaces between the teeth, but they cannot succeed in eliminating all of the bacteria.

Mouthwash, on the other hand, can penetrate every part of your mouth including your cheeks, tongue, gums and teeth to remove what’s left of the bacteria and food debris.

Your mouthwash may contain alcohol, chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride, or fluoride, substances that kill bacteria, stop their growth, destroy their cell membrane or makes them inactive and also help avoid tooth decay.
However, with all of these benefits, it is not advisable to use mouthwash alone in your oral care routine.

Antiseptic Mouthwash or Floss?

In clinical trials that compared the effectiveness of using mouthwash to flossing in fighting plaque and gum disease, presented at the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Annual Meeting.

The studies showed that antimicrobial mouth rinse is “at least as good as flossing in improving gingival health and plaque reduction, especially in hard to reach areas of the mouth.” “The findings, however, do not mean that flossing should be replaced with rinsing,” said Sebastian Ciancio, DDS, distinguished service professor, and chair, Department of Periodontics and Endodontics, University at Buffalo School of Medicine & Dentistry.

Antiseptic mouth rinses may kill bacteria in the mouth and prevent gingivitis, but the effect of this is short term, that is why mouthwash cannot replace brushing or flossing.

If you want your mouth rinse to be effective, you have to include in a daily healthcare routine that involves brushing twice a day and flossing regularly. Before using mouthwash, it is also important to visit your dentist and ask for advice on the type of mouthwash recommended for optimal oral health.

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