Mouthwash is often sold as helping to reduce the risk of gum disease. And it's true; certain varieties of mouthwash are effective in helping to combat this disease. However, that doesn't mean that rinsing with mouthwash is a replacement for other methods of combating gum disease. Here's why it's okay to use mouthwash, but not okay to skip flossing.
What Mouthwash Can Do
Mouthwash is effective at two things: getting beneath your gums and eliminating bacteria. This is why both are important to fighting gum disease.
The first thing to understand is that gum disease is caused by bacteria. Bacteria are able to thrive in poor oral hygiene conditions, which is why people who don't use mouthwash or floss tend to have gum disease. So killing these bacteria helps to reduce gum disease and can reverse some of its symptoms in the early stages.
Getting underneath the gums is also important, as this area of the mouth is warmest and a sort of safe-haven for bacteria. Washing it out relieves the gums immediately and helps them to start healing.
What It Can't
The biggest problem for mouthwash isn't bacteria, but what the bacteria produces. Bacteria make plaque, the sticky stuff that's responsible for creating cavities and causing gum disease. When you're trying to get rid of gum disease, it's important to get rid of the plaque, too.
The problem is, plaque is sticky. Simply rinsing isn't enough to remove it, or you'd be able to get rid of it just by rinsing with water. Unfortunately, even the best mouthwash varieties are helpless in the face of plaque.
How Flossing Helps
The good news is, getting rid of plaque is easy with flossing. Flossing utilizes the necessary friction required for removing plaque from between the teeth and under the gumline. Just like killing bacteria, this provides immediate relief for early-stage gum disease. Plaque is irritating and can cause inflammation, which is one symptom of gum disease. As a result, getting rid of the plaque helps to bring down these two factors, and increases the body's ability to heal.
Getting rid of or preventing gum disease is something that can be accomplished with flossing, or a combination of flossing and mouthwash. However, you should never skip flossing and just use mouthwash, or you're only fighting half the battle. Talk to a dentist, especially if you suspect that you have gum disease, as you may need treatment in order to fully beat it.
For more information, contact places like Thornley Dental.