The dentist says not to do 1 thing that leaves “the worst, toughest” germs in your mouth.
Many of us have the same morning routine: brush our teeth with a harsh toothpaste and an abrasive toothbrush right after breakfast, then rinse with a mouthwash that is so strong it makes us wince.
When people talk about these habits, Dr. Kami Hoss also cringes.
In his book “If Your Mouth Could Talk: An In-Depth Guide to Oral Health and How It Affects Your Whole Life,” a dentist lists these as some of the reasons why so many people have bad oral health, which in turn affects their physical and mental health.
“According to statistics, our mouths as a society are in very bad shape right now. With all the advances in science, technology, and medicine, you might think that dentists don’t have anything to do anymore,” Hoss, co-founder of The Super Dentists in San Diego, California, told TODAY.
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When shopping for toothpaste, there are so many different brands to choose from that it can be hard to decide. Dr. Catrise Austin, a dentist in New York City, talks about the different options so you can choose the best one for your teeth.
“But dental health hasn’t improved in the last 30 years… Most of our people have oral diseases, which means that what we are doing now isn’t working.
The World Health Organization says that dental caries, or tooth decay, is the most common disease that can’t be spread from person to person.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that about half of adults in the U.S. have some kind of gum disease, and that number goes up to 70% for people over 65.
Hoss said that the biggest problem is that people either don’t take care of their mouths or clean and sterilize them so much that they upset the balance of the oral microbiome.
Like the gut, the mouth has both good and bad bacteria, which add up to billions of microbes. He said that if this delicate balance is upset, like if you use a product that kills all the bacteria in your mouth, problems can happen.
What does oral health mean?
Hoss said that it means having a balanced oral microbiome and the right growth and development of the mouth. This means that the airways are clear, the bite is right, and the face looks balanced. In his book, he wrote that a healthy mouth can add up to 10 years to a person’s life.
But if something goes wrong and a person’s mouth gets sick, it can affect everything about their health, even their mental health. Hoss writes that it is “mind-boggling” how many diseases, like diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s, are linked to periodontal disease.
He said that the health of the mouth is linked to the health of the rest of the body, but dentists are still mostly trained to fill cavities or straighten teeth instead of preventing bigger problems.
What are the worst things people do for their oral health?
They include using harsh oral care products with alcohol and other ingredients that can change the oral microbiome, which took millions of years to develop, said Hoss.
He was especially horrified by antiseptic mouthwash, which, as advertised, kills 99 percent of everything and leaves behind “the baddest, toughest, roughest little microbes around,” which are “ready to recolonize that whole mouth,” he writes in his book.
Hoss told people to think of their mouths as a garden, where the good bugs are the flowers and plants and the bad bugs are the weeds.
“If you had a weed growing in your garden, you wouldn’t just throw acid and weed killer on it and kill everything, like we do in our mouths. “But we use mouthwash that kills everything because it is antiseptic,” he said. “What we do with our mouths right now is a mess.”
Researchers have told TODAY that some of the good microbes that die after using harsh mouthwash are designed to help the body make nitric oxide, a chemical linked to blood flow that also plays an important role in regulating endothelial function, blood pressure, and insulin sensitivity.
The good way to take care of your teeth
Hoss suggested doing the following:
- Start your morning oral care routine before breakfast, not after, because when you eat, your mouth becomes acidic and you can damage your enamel if you brush right away. “The biggest mistake I see is that people brush their teeth after breakfast or after meals,” he said.
- When you wake up, use an alkaline mouthwash to bring the pH of your mouth back to normal and get rid of any plaque and food particles that built up while you were sleeping. This way of rinsing gets to parts of the mouth that a toothbrush can’t reach.
- Floss between your teeth to get rid of plaque. Hoss said that any floss is better than none, but regular string floss is best because you always use a clean surface. After water flossers, his second choice would be flossers with a handle.
- Use a tongue scraper or brush to clean your tongue. “That’s another place people forget about, but it has a lot of bacteria that causes bad breath,” Hoss said.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste that is safe and works well.
- Do this routine again before going to bed, but switch the order so that the alkaline mouthwash is the last thing you use before bed. This is what Hoss suggested.
- Between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., he liked to balance the acidity in his mouth by using xylitol mouth spray or chewing xylitol gum.
“It’s not that hard: Brush and floss your teeth regularly with the right products. “Go to the dentist often,” Hoss said. “The health of your mouth affects every aspect of your life.”