Do I have to use mouthwash if I brush and floss my teeth daily?

You don't have to do anything you don't want to do, but the American Dental Association suggests that you probably should add rinsing with a fluoride antimicrobial mouthwash along with brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily. You can buy mouthwashes over-the-counter that contain fluoride, alcohol, and other antimicrobial ingredients. Check for the ADA seal of acceptance. This seal shows that the ADA has rigorously tested the product to be safe and effective. Adding mouthwashes can prevent dental cavities and tooth decay. Rinsing for 30 seconds after brushing is enough to give you the protection you need. People with diabetes should definitely use mouthwashes because they are at higher risk for dental cavities and gum disease.

Dante A. Gonzales, DMD
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
Any little thing you do will help. But using a mouthwash should be secondary to brushing and flossing. Most mouthwashes are only effective at the very surface. If plaque and bacteria are allowed to build up on the teeth and tissues, the mouthwash is not very effective at penetrating into the plaque. Therefore, for most mouthwashes and fluoride rinses to be effective you must clean the teeth and gums first with brushing and flossing.
Mouthwashes are generally cosmetic and do not have a long-lasting effect on bad breath. If you must constantly use a breath freshener to hide unpleasant mouth odor, see your dentist. If you need extra help in controlling plaque, your dentist may recommend using a special antimicrobial mouth rinse. A fluoride mouth rinse, used along with brushing and flossing, can help prevent tooth decay.

Look for the American Dental Association Seal when purchasing oral care products so you know they have been thoroughly evaluated for safety and effectiveness.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.