If you had to choose, is it better to use mouthwash or floss? Mouthwash is actually the best addition to brushing your teeth, according to this study. Rinsing with an antiseptic mouth rinse such as Listerine significantly reduces gingivitis-related inflammation compared to brushing teeth alone as well as brushing teeth and flossing. While it would be best to use both of the methods in addition to brushing your teeth, mouthwash is decisively better than flossing.
That being said, your choice of mouthwash matters. Stores mostly sell mouthwash that contains alcohol. This is the mouthwash that burns when you rinse. This can make it feel like the mouthwash is doing a good job, killing all bacteria in your mouth, but this isn’t necessarily for the best. Mouthwash with alcohol kills all bacteria: the bad and the good bacteria. This mouthwash also dries your mouth out, creating a breeding ground for bad bacterias to infiltrate your mouth again. This will cause you to have bad breath sooner in the day, and it is also less healthy for your mouth.
Mouthwashes without alcohol, however, don’t cause that unpleasant burning sensation, and they won’t dry your mouth out. Alcohol-free mouthwash is also safer to have around children and pets, though you should keep it out of reach regardless. Mouthwashes with alcohol may have up to 20% alcohol content, which could be very dangerous if ingested by children. Some alcohol-free mouthwashes include fluoride, chlorhexidine gluconate, hydrogen peroxide, and more. Branded alternatives should also specify “alcohol-free” on the labelling.
While mouthwash is better than flossing, it is still best to use all three methods of cleaning, brushing the teeth, flossing, and mouthwash, in addition to regular dental visits for deep cleaning. These all help prevent the disease gingivitis, which untreated can lead to major sensitivities or even the loss of your teeth. Set up a regular dental routine and start taking care of your teeth as soon as you can; they’re the only ones you have!