Can You Use Mouthwash Instead of Flossing?


Ever wanted to ‘cheat’ at some of your daily tasks?

It’s OK. We’ve all thought about it.

Some days you’re short on time but still want to make sure you take care of yourself. You may be wondering if you can skip flossing and just swish some mouthwash around instead.

So, can you use mouthwash instead of flossing?

To answer that we need to look at the function of each one.


The goal of all oral hygiene is to reduce harmful bacteria, remove debris and remove plaque. Brushing your teeth accomplishes all of these but primarily affects the tooth surface.

Flossing gets debris and plaque that accumulate in crevices, nooks and crannies where a toothbrush can’t reach. Mouthwash can help with bacteria and debris as well as freshen your breath.

A water flosser is another tool that helps remove debris. Some can be filled with a combination of mouthwash and water for a dual effect.


Flossing physically removes anything between the teeth if it is properly performed. You can use a simple floss that looks like string or a wider type that is more like narrow tape.

Floss is also available waxed or unwaxed. The type of floss you use is really a personal decision – the key is to use it every day.

Holders are available to make it easier to reach all the areas you want to clean. Combining floss with special tooth-cleaning picks gives you maximum benefits.


Mouthwash comes in several forms. The first is the cosmetic mouthwash.

Cosmetic mouthwashes have a pleasant taste. They can help reduce bad breath and make your mouth taste better.

Antiseptic mouthwashes can help decrease bacteria as well as freshen your breath. Special therapeutic mouthwashes (ask your dentist about these) may help reduce plaque formation.

However, no mouthwash can affect plaque once it develops and hardens. In all cases, it’s important to brush your teeth first and thoroughly swish and rinse your teeth with mouthwash

Best Practice

For the best oral health, it’s better to focus on how to get your teeth properly cleaned rather than saving time.

Brush twice a day, floss once a day and use mouthwash after you brush. See your dentist twice a year for professional cleaning.

In the long run, these actions will do the most to keep your teeth in the best condition and help prevent cavities or gum disease. After all, preventing health problems is better than cure!

If you have any dental concerns, contact us. We specialise in gentle, preventive care and we can get you on track to better health and wellbeing.

All Insights