This article originally appeared on Southern Living. For more stories like this, visit southernliving.com.

By SouthernLiving.com/Meghan Overdeep
Jul 22, 2018 @ 4:00 pm

We have good news for those of you who take a four-pronged approach (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and mouthwash) to teeth cleaning. A dentist has given his permission to simplify that time-consuming oral hygiene regimen.

In a recent interview with Apartment Therapy, Lance Vernon, DMD, a senior instructor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, revealed that mouthwash isn’t nearly as important as brushing, flossing, and regular checkups. And that’s not all. Using mouthwash can actually backfire, since many people assume it can used as a substitute for brushing—which it certainly cannot be.

"Gingivitis comes when you don't clean your teeth where the tooth meets the gum," Vernon explained to Apartment Therapy. "The plaque accumulates on the gum line, which can become inflamed and swollen." When it comes to this problem area, Vernon said that diligent brushing and flossing is much more effective than mouthwash.

There are, however, a few instances where mouthwash earns its spot in your medicine cabinet: as a quick way to refresh your breath, and to reduce oral thrush. But, at the end of the day, Vernon says "brushing for five seconds would be more helpful than mouth rinse."

In conclusion, mouthwash is the least important tool in your dental arsenal, and it should never take the place of your toothbrush, floss, and regular visits to your dentist. If you really can’t say goodbye to your nightly swish, Vernon recommends brands with fluoride that are also alcohol-free. "Alcohol will dry the tissue [in your mouth]," he noted.

So there you have it!