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If I donít have time to brush, is it OK to use mouthwash instead?

If I donít have time to brush, is it OK to use mouthwash instead?

No! Despite ditzy Jessica Simpson’s confession that she rarely brushes her teeth -- relying instead on a swish of mouthwash to clean her famous choppers -- this is definitely not a move you should mimic. Your mouth constantly produces bacteria, known as plaque, even while you sleep. The longer plaque stays on your teeth, the greater chance it has to erode enamel and increase your risk of gum disease. (Think of it this way: If you knew you had disease-causing germs on your body, would you wait a few hours to shower?) Mouthwash can remove some plaque, but not the sticky, tenacious kind.

While mouthwash can be a fine addition to your dental arsenal, you also need a soft-bristle toothbrush and toothpaste. Look for a toothpaste formula that contains fluoride -- a mineral that helps strengthen teeth -- and boasts the American Dental Association seal. Your best bet: A paste with peroxide or baking soda, which creates a gentle foaming action that helps lift bacteria from beneath the gumline. And remember, when it comes to brushing, we’re talking two minutes of your time here; just grin and bear it.

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