Common Mistakes We Make in Taking Care of our Mouths 

Considering all the advances in technology and modern medicine, you would think that oral health today is better than it’s ever been. Surprisingly, this is not the case, and in fact, mouths today are astonishingly unhealthy. Dental caries, also known as tooth decay, is the most common noncommunicable disease on the planet, according to the World Health Organization. And in the U.S., about half of adults have some form of gum disease, with that number rising to 70% for Americans who are over 65 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). 

The problem is, people either neglect their mouth or go to the other extreme – disinfecting and sterilizing it to such a degree that they disrupt the balance of the oral microbiome. Just like our gut, our mouth contains both good and bad bacteria — billions of microbes in all. Oral bacteria are part of a healthy mouth, and it is imperative to keep them balanced in order to maintain a healthy oral microbiome. Having a balanced oral microbiome allows for the right growth and development of the mouth, and can even increase life expectancy by up to 10 years. When you disrupt this delicate balance — by using a product that kills all the bacteria in your mouth, for example — problems can arise.

Harsh oral care products that contain alcohol and other ingredients can destroy the balance of the oral microbiome, which took millions of years to evolve. Antiseptic mouthwash, for example, can kill 99% of all oral bacteria, leaving behind only the toughest “bad” microbes, which are then able to recolonize that entire mouth, totally unchecked by the “good” organisms that used to hold them at bay.

Additionally, when beneficial microbes are destroyed through the use of harsh mouthwash, the mouth loses some of its ability to help the rest of your body stay healthy. This is because some of these beneficial bacteria actually form nitric oxide, a chemical linked to blood flow that also plays an important role in regulating endothelial function, blood pressure, and insulin sensitivity. This means use of harsh mouthwashes could potentially increase your risk of developing diabetes. A recent study found that very frequent mouthwash users had a 55 percent higher risk of developing pre-diabetes or diabetes than the less frequent users (TODAY).

Using a harsh mouthwash is only one of the mistakes people make in taking care of their mouths. Other common mistakes include brushing teeth immediately after eating, chewing sugary gum, and failing to maintain both a good daily oral care routine and regular visits with a dentist. In order to maintain a healthy mouth, it is critical to  brush and floss routinely, as well as visit your dentist regularly.

Here are a few more tips for maintaining a healthy mouth:

  • Start your morning oral care routine before breakfast, not after: It’s best to brush before breakfast, not after, because the mouth becomes acidic when you eat, and you can damage your enamel if you brush your teeth immediately after a meal. 
  • Use an alkaline mouthwash, not a harsh chemical-based one: Alkaline mouthwashes can restore the pH of the mouth, and loosen any plaque and particles that build up overnight, rinsing areas of the mouth that the toothbrush can’t effectively reach.
  • Floss to reach the tough spots your toothbrush can’t effectively reach: Flossing between the teeth and along the gumline removes plaque between your teeth, helping to reduce cavities from forming. 
  • Repeat your oral care routine before bedtime: Just as in the morning, your routine should include brushing, flossing, and an alkaline mouthwash. It’s best if the last oral care product you use before bed is the alkaline mouthwash.
  • Use mouth spray with xylitol or chew xylitol gum: In the time between your morning and evening oral care routine, using mouth spray with xylitol or chewing xylitol gum can help to balance the acidity of the mouth throughout the day.

Your oral health impacts every part of your life, so it is imperative to maintain good oral care habits and avoid some of the common mistakes people make in their mouths. At Affinity Dental of La Mesa, California, we encourage all of our clients to practice a good daily oral care routine, as well as to maintain regular dental visits for check-ups and cleaning. At Affinity Dental of La Mesa, we are here to help you achieve a healthy mouth and a beautiful smile. Give us a call at (619) 697-2800, or click here to make an appointment today!