Can Rinsing With Mouthwash Replace Brushing?

Are you rinsing with mouthwash when you don't have time to brush? Find out why this habit is hurting your health and even might be the culprit of bad breath.

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Hi, I’m Dr. B, practicing functional dentist for 35 years. I graduated from the Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, CA in 1987 and am a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), Academy of General Dentistry (Chicago, IL), American Academy for Oral Systemic Health (AAOSH), and Dental Board of California. I'm on a mission to empower people everywhere with the same evidence-based, easy-to-understand dental health advice that my patients get. Learn more about Dr. B

Jessica Simpson admitted in an interview recently that when she doesn’t have time to brush, she uses Listerine and her sweater.

It goes without saying that not brushing your teeth is, well, gross, and can also lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other problems.

However, when you’re in a hurry, using mouthwash as a quick way to freshen up is a tempting quick fix. I’d like to explain how dangerous this is.

Alcohol-containing Mouthwashes Are Thought to Cause Cancer

You know that burning sensation you feel when using mouthwash? That’s the alcohol drying out the mouth – which causes cells to die and increases your risk of oral cancer.

Crest, Scope, and Listerine are not the only culprits. Don’t buy any wash with alcohol, namely ethanol, in it. Chlorine dioxide is another ingredient you want to stay away from.

Alcohol-containing Mouthwashes Worsen Bad Breath

In addition to increasing your cancer risk, these mouthwashes don’t even do what they’re supposed to! The high levels of alcohol in mouthwash make bad breath worse by drying out the mouth. Don’t be fooled by the “minty” flavor of your Listerine or Scope mouthwash – that’s just a masking agent.

The fix for bad breath is this: Brush and floss your teeth after each meal. It’s that simple. If you still want to use mouthwash, go with Tom’s of Maine’s alcohol-free mouthwash, but don’t use it as a replacement for brushing.

White Teeth Do Not Necessarily Mean Healthy Teeth

I’ve seen a lot of talk on the web about how Jessica doesn’t need to brush since she whitens her teeth. This is dead wrong.

Whitening teeth does not remove plaque, which is the stuff responsible for tooth decay and bad breath.

Ditch the mouthwash and use a toothbrush and floss instead.

Mark Burhenne DDS

Learn More: Reversing Tooth Decay and Healing Cavities Naturally: Top Questions Answered