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Is mouthwash as effective as floss? To put it plainly — nope.

While a good mouthwash can help in the fight against gum disease, cavities and bad breath, it simply can’t remove plaque as well as floss can. Plaque is sticky and adhesive, like glue, and can’t be removed unless you floss and put some elbow grease into it.

Flossing displaces the destructive colonies of bacteria growing against your teeth and gums. When these bacterial colonies, or plaque, are allowed to grow freely, they eventually cause gum disease and leads to a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and other serious ailments. Flossing disrupts their efforts and prevents them from building a stable home (calculus) in your mouth. And flossing a couple times a week won’t do the job — bacteria works fast and they’ll re-colonize before you know it.

If your gums bleed when you floss, it means your gums are infected. Flossing regularly will eventually stop the bleeding.

Using mouthwash may loosen up the surface of plaque on your teeth and in your gums, so you can use it in conjunction with flossing. However, mouthwash can’t replace regular flossing.

Mouthwash can also be used as a quick refresher, but if you’re dealing with bad breath, the underlying cause is the bacteria lurking between your teeth and on your tongue. The only lasting solution is regular flossing. And don’t forget to brush your tongue — one study found that brushing the tongue reduces the perception of bad breath by 70%.

In fact, in January of 2005, a judge ordered the makers of Listerine to remove the claim that their rinse was “as effective as floss” from the labels of their product. The judge concluded that the clinical studies Listerine used in their findings were based on flawed research and that such a claim posed a risk to public health.

If you’re being treated with Invisalign at the moment, it’s also important to know the fundamentals to flossing with Invisalign.


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