The germ-killing mouthwashes, such as Listerine, constantly say in their commercials that using them works better than brushing alone, but now there’s research to prove it. Please note the stipulation that mouthwashes need to be used in conjunction with brushing your teeth.
“It’s simple—mouthrinses can reach nearly 100 percent of the mouth’s surfaces, while brushing focuses on the teeth, which make up only 25 percent of the mouth,” says Christine A. Charles, RDH, BS, lead author of the study and director of Scientific and Professional Affairs, Global Consumer Healthcare Research and Development, Johnson & Johnson Consumer and Personal Products Worldwide. “Even with regular brushing and flossing, bacteria often are left behind.”
The research team found that when using a mouthwash that kills germs twice a day, in addition to brushing your teeth, it significantly reduces the amount of plaque that builds up, and it even significantly lowers the risk of developing gingivitis.
The study lasted for six months and involved 139 adults diagnosed with mild to moderate plaque buildup and gingivitis. The participants were separated into two groups, with one group using a germ-killing mouthwash twice a day when brushing their teeth and the second group using a mouthwash twice a day that does not kill germs.
“Results show that the group using a germ-killing mouth rinse reduced its occurrence of plaque by up to 26.3 percent,” says AGD Spokesperson Janice Pliszczak, DDS, MS, MBA, MAGD. “Furthermore, that same group showed a 20.4 percent reduction in gingivitis.”
Following the study, almost 100 percent of the members of the germ-killing mouthwash group showed a reduction in gingivitis, whereas only 30 percent of the other placebo group showed similar improvement.
“Most people brush their teeth for less than 1 minute, when, at the very least, they should be brushing for 2 minutes. Additionally, only 2 to 10 percent of people floss regularly and effectively,” Dr. Pliszczak added. “Adding a germ-killing mouth rinse twice a day to your daily routine is another way to attack the germs that can cause significant oral health problems.”
Don’t forget that not all mouthwashes fight germs. Some are specifically for whitening or fighting bad breath (which doesn’t automatically mean it kills bad breath-causing germs). Be sure to check the label of your mouthwash if you’re going to add it to your daily oral hygiene routine.