The emphasis on a strong oral routine is always pressed onto us when we visit the dentist’s office. We’re told to build a habit of brushing and flossing to rid our mouths of the leftover sugar and carbs with will break down our enamel and inflame our gums otherwise. You never usually hear of a dentist recommending to use mouthwash. In fact, when we’re in the dentist office, we wash our mouth out with just water. Then how is it that the oral care market of the retail realm heavily advertises the use of mouthwash? The commercials catch our attention by pointing out our bad breath and telling us that by swishing with mouthwash, that we’ll kill the germs in our mouths that are causing your bad breath. Swishing a minty mouthwash may freshen your breath, make your mouth feel cleaner, and remove lingering odors from your breath. But there are downsides that outweigh these advantages. Is this product helping or harming us in the long run?

As it turns out, the excess reliance on mouthwash is one of the biggest mistakes people make when caring for their teeth. As we spoke about in the past, there are good bacteria that naturally exist in our mouth. Using antibacterial mouthwash can disrupt the normal bacteria count in the mouth, as it kills all kinds of bacteria upon usage. What a lot of people don’t realize is that we rely on a healthy balance of good bacteria in the mouth to keep us healthy. Ridding your mouths of all of the bacteria — good and bad — disrupts the entire natural ecosystem that operates in the mouth and makes us prone to issues such as bad breath, oral yeast infections, and cavities.

Another large issue of using mouthwash regularly is that it can make you feel like your mouth is clean when it truly isn’t. Compare this idea to when you wash a glass service with a towel and water. The glass surface will still have dirt and grime and the appearance will be a bit streaked. This is why we use a cleaner, to get rid of every last bit of dirt! A truly clean and healthy mouth requires regular brushing and flossing, just like a glass requires thorough scrubbing with soap or another cleaning agent to get clean! If you’re using mouthwash as a substitute for good oral hygiene, you’re putting yourself at serious risk for gingivitis, cavities and other dental issues.

There are also some fundamental problems with the over-the-counter commercial mouthwashes that you can buy in the drugstore, such as Listerine and Scope. In order to make them shelf stable, manufacturers add acidic stabilizing agents. These are absolutely terrible for your teeth. The acid will actually eat away at your tooth enamel, weakening your teeth and making them more susceptible to decay.

Oral hygiene is very important in order to keep your mouth in the best health. Brushing and flossing are the two best things you can do for your mouth. Stear clear of mouthwash.