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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are the effects of brushing your teeth with mouthwash only?

    My husband brushes his teeth morning and night with mouthwash only. He never uses toothpaste. He uses Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash (green colour - contains: ethanol, benzoic acid, thymol, cineole). His teeth are slightly yellowed although he has had them cleaned and scaled. Is this an adequate method of dental hygiene? What problems might occur as a result of this routine? Thank you.
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  • 13


    The main action of cleaning is to remove bacteria and a fine film of saliva from the tooth surface. In much the same way that when a car is washed a sponge is used to remove stuck on dirt before rinsing with water, the tooth brush is essential in removing bacteria (plaque) from the teeth. Mouthwashing alone will not achieve this and provides a false sense of freshness due to the flavour. Some of problems of inadeqate brushing are gum disease, tooth decay, bad breath, staining or yellowing of teeth. Physical cleaning of teeth is the best method.

  • 23


    Regular brushing of your teeth, regardless of which type of toothpaste, or mouthwash, or even just water has some benefit as the physical action of the toothbrush will remove some plaque. Using a mouthwash instead of toothpaste, while not harmful, misses out on the benefits of toothpaste. The main benefits of toothpaste are that it contains fluoride which makes the teeth more resistant to decay, and the paste itself aids the physical removal of plaque. 

  • 26


    Principal Dentist at Darlinghurst Dental, a high quality, affordable practice located in the heart of Darlinghurst. A high emphasis on customer service and impeccable cross … View Profile

    Brushing with mouthwash alone is insufficient to brush the teeth. The most important ingredient in toothpaste is fluoride and this is not contained in most mouthwashes. Even those that have it, have it at a level different to the optimal level contained in toothpaste.

    The second most important element of toothpaste is the abrasives. This is small gritty particles that aid in the cleaning of the teeth. These are not contained in mouthwash either.

    There is some benefit to brushing with mouthwash due to the antibacterial effect, but it is minimal and is mostly just flavour. Rinsing with mouthwash after brushing has a benefit in reducing gingivitis, or gum disease.

    Nowadays, with more acidic diets and abrasive whitening toothpastes on the market, some people overbrush. I tend to recommend twice a day with toothpaste and if you wish to brush after lunch, brush with a mouthwas on this occasion as too much abrasion is not a good thing. Everything in moderation for optimal oral health.

    Frank Farrelly

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