Even with all of today’s advances in modern medicine, as a population we still struggle with our dental health. The problem is, people either neglect to properly care for their mouth or they go to the other extreme and disinfect and sterilize it to such a degree that they destroy the healthy balance. Similar to our gut, our mouth contains billions of microbes of both good and bad bacteria. These oral bacteria are part of a healthy mouth, and our goal is 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! Disrupt this delicate balance, and problems can arise.
This leads us to the question: Is Mouthwash Good or Bad For Our Mouths? Mouthwash products that contain alcohol and other ingredients can be too harsh for the delicate balance of our oral bacteria. Antiseptic mouthwash, for example, can kill 99% of all oral bacteria. This leaves 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. In other words, harsh chemical mouthwashes can destroy the balance of our oral microbiome.
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. 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). This means use of harsh mouthwashes could potentially increase your risk of developing diabetes.
How can we avoid making the mistake of using a harsh mouthwash, and still keep our mouths healthy and our breath fresh? Try using an alkaline mouthwash instead. Alkaline mouthwashes can restore the pH of the mouth, and loosen any plaque and particles that have built up, rinsing areas of the mouth that the toothbrush can’t effectively reach. Start your morning by brushing your teeth and using the alkaline mouthwash, then end your day the same way. It’s best if the last oral care product you use before bed is the alkaline mouthwash.
Another mouth-healthy trick you can try: 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. Using oral care products containing xylitol can help you maintain the delicate balance of a healthy oral microbiome.
Your oral health impacts your overall health – maintain good oral care habits and you can go a long way towards taking care of your whole self. At La Mesa Hills Dentistry in La Mesa Hills, 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. La Mesa Hills Dentistry is here to help you achieve a healthy mouth and a beautiful smile. Give us a call at (619) 469-2902 or click here to book an appointment with La Mesa Hills Dentistry today!