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What’s the Difference Between Fluoride Rinse and Mouthwash? | Overland Park Family Dentist

Many people use mouthwash or a fluoride rinse as part of their daily oral care routine, but thanks to the bombastic claims of some marketing departments, your Overland Park dentist has found that there’s often some confusion about just exactly what a mouthwash or a fluoride rinse is and what it does for your dental health. So we’re here to clear up any confusion!

Let’s start by figuring out what mouthwashes and fluoride rinses are. A mouthwash is most commonly used to freshen your breath. But while mouthwash may leave your mouth feeling clean, most mouthwashes don’t do anything to clean your teeth, and none of them are a substitute for brushing and flossing regularly. In fact, mouthwashes often contain a high percentage of alcohol and antiseptics in order to kill germs that contribute to bad breath and other oral hygiene issues. But too much alcohol and other antiseptics can potentially damage the enamel of your teeth, so mouthwash should perhaps be used sparingly.

A fluoride rinse doesn’t remove plaque or other bacteria, as you might think based on the name. Instead it works to strengthen the coating on your teeth in order to protect them from the acidic effects of plaque. The best fluoride rinses have the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Approval. Fluoride rinses are commonly recommended for individuals who, for whatever reason, need a little extra protection from bacterial plaque. But the best way to fight plaque is still to brush and floss every day, and to make regular visits to your Overland Park dentist for cleanings and check-ups!

Mouthwash may be a great solution for when you order the garlic curried trout for dinner and have a meeting with your boss in the morning, and some dentists may recommend a fluoride mouth rinse for patients who are especially susceptible to gingivitis and plaque build-up. Still, neither one is an effective replacement for daily brushing and flossing.

Whether you use mouthwash or a fluoride rinse, you should always wait to do so until after you’ve already brushed and flossed your teeth—the mouthwash or fluoride rinse will do the extra job of helping to clear any dislodged particles out of your mouth—and refrain from eating or drinking anything for 30 minutes after you’ve used a fluoride rinse in order to get the best effect.

At the end of the day, if you want to keep your teeth healthy, your breath fresh, and your mouth feeling clean, your best bet is to eat a diet of healthy foods, reduce your intake of sugars, brush and floss every day, and see your Overland Park dentist at Watts Family Dental for regular check-ups and cleanings. Having trouble with bad breath, think you might need a fluoride rinse, or just want to schedule an appointment? Give us a call any time at (913) 338-3384 and we’ll be happy to help!


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