Which Is More Important?By: Joyce Kahng, DDS •February 15, 2023
Whenever you hear about what you should be doing to ensure your ongoing oral health, you hear experts mention brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash to rinse your mouth. These are all often mentioned in the same breath. Brushing seems obvious to most people, but you may be wondering why you need to use floss or mouthwash. What’s the difference in what they address? And is one more important than the other?
Below is more information about floss, mouthwash, and other considerations to ensure the health of your teeth and gums.
While brushing clears away most of the debris and plaque that damages your teeth, it won’t remove all of it. There are tough-to-reach spots that toothbrushes often can’t get to. In order to clear away debris and plaque from these areas, you need to floss.
Flossing helps to prevent gum disease, freshen your breath, and improve your overall oral health. You should be flossing at least once a day very thoroughly. This means taking your time and flossing between every tooth. Be gentle enough that you don’t aggravate the gums, but tough enough that you remove the food and plaque from between your teeth.
If you notice you are bleeding often when you floss, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with your dentist for a checkup. There is a chance that you may have developed gum disease. Luckily, early-stage gingivitis can be treated and reversed. You also may be flossing too hard, so try easing up a little and see if that stops the bleeding.
Don’t skip out on flossing. It will help to ensure the health of your teeth and gums.
Mouthwash is very helpful with cleaning and rinsing out your mouth. But why use mouthwash?
Mouthwash reduces the bacteria in your mouth, which prevents tooth decay. Sometimes it contains antimicrobial ingredients that also help to reduce any plaque and can help with the treatment of gingivitis.
One major reason people use mouthwash is to freshen their breath. By killing odor-causing bacteria, mouthwash can leave your breath smelling fresh and clean.
“Floss versus mouthwash” isn’t really the best question to ask. You need to be doing both. With that said, people sometimes use mouthwash to replace flossing. This is a mistake. You need to floss every day.
If there was only one thing you could do, flossing would probably be more important. This isn’t permission to skip the use of mouthwash, though. It’s affordable and easy to incorporate into your morning and evening oral healthcare routines.
Use both for the best results possible.
In order to ensure your oral health, you’ll need to do more than just flossing and rinsing out your mouth with mouthwash. Other things you need to do include:
This one may seem obvious, but a lot of people skip brushing either once or even twice a day! While if you miss one evening of brushing it’s not going to cause immediate tooth decay and gum disease, breaking the habit of brushing twice a day can become a problem very quickly. Missing a brushing session should be a rarity and not because you didn’t feel like it.
Brush thoroughly twice a day, every day. Make sure you brush each quadrant (4 sections of your mouth) for at least 30 seconds. While you don’t want to brush so hard that it hurts your gums, you also don’t want to brush too softly. It is highly recommended that you invest in an electric toothbrush—particularly one with a timer so you know when to switch quadrants.
With regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing you will greatly decrease the amount of plaque buildup and will ensure the safety of your gums and teeth.
Another crucial aspect of ongoing oral health is regularly visiting the dentist for checkups and cleanings. You need to visit your dentist every six months to have your teeth professionally cleaned, and for a dentist to perform an examination of your teeth, gums, and jawbone.
Your dental cleaning will be performed by a dentist or a qualified hygienist. During the cleaning, the dental professional will use special tools to scrape any plaque and tartar from your teeth. Plaque is the sticky film that forms on your teeth. Once that plaque begins to harden, it turns into tartar. This is more difficult to remove.
After the scraping, your dentist will brush your teeth with special equipment, using professional-grade toothpaste. They will then floss your teeth and ensure all of the plaque and tartar is removed.
During your checkup, your dentist will perform a visual examination and may also take x-rays. X-rays should be expected if it’s your first time visiting a new dentist. Your dentist also may take x-rays if it’s been a while since your last x-rays or if they suspect you have an oral health issue. Examinations are extremely important, as they allow your dentist to diagnose any oral health issues before they progress and become more serious. For instance, what may start as a small cavity can progress over time to become a root infection. The earlier treatment can be performed, the higher the likelihood that damage can be reversed or at least stopped before it becomes serious.
If you don’t have an appointment in the books to visit your dentist for a regular cleaning and checkup, make sure you call them today.
If you have any questions about how to properly brush, floss, and/or rinse, ask them during your next cleaning and checkup. They will be happy to walk you through the proper techniques.
Brushing, flossing, and rinsing should be part of your daily routine. If you aren’t doing so twice a day, start today! The better you take care of your teeth and gums, the lower the chances of you developing serious oral health issues that require treatment.
DOCTOR + FOUNDER