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I know it’s important to brush and floss. But how important is it to use mouthwash?

By: Alice Lesch Kelly

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Brushing and flossing are your first and second line of defense against cavities and gum disease. However, using mouthwash adds a third level of protection by helping to rinse away bacteria and plaque that you may miss when you brush and floss.

Research published in The Journal of the American Dental Association has shown that rinsing with an alcohol-based antiseptic mouthwash can lower plaque levels by 52 percent and gum inflammation (gingivitis) by 21 percent compared with brushing and flossing alone.

Mouthwash also reduces the amount of bacteria that travels from the mouth to the bloodstream, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology. If gum disease is left untreated, mouth bacteria may enter the bloodstream and contribute to broader health problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and pneumonia, warns Dr. Marcelo Araujo, co-author of the study.

Photo: @iStockphoto.com/ellobo1

Read more about: Oral Care

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Alice Lesch Kelly

is a freelance medical writer who has covered women’s health, nutrition and oral health for print publications and the Web. She has co-written four books on women’s health. Her articles frequently appear in Completely You.

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