Dentist warns against 1 habit that leaves ‘the baddest, toughest’ germs in your mouth


It's a morning routine many of us are familiar with: Clean your mouth immediately after breakfast with a coarse toothpaste and abrasive toothbrush, then rinse with a mouthwash strong enough to make you frown.

Dr. Kami Hawes frowns when he hears his patients describe these habits.

The dentist writes in his book, “If Your Mouth Could Talk: An In-depth Guide to Oral Health and How It Will Affect Your Life.”

“Statistically, as a society, our mouths are very unhealthy right now. With all these advances in science, technology and medicine, you might think dentists would have nothing to do at this time,” says co-founder of Super Dentist in San Diego, California. Hoss told TODAY.com.

But oral health hasn't improved at all in the past 30 years… most of us have oral disease, so that means what we're currently doing isn't working.”

According to the World Health Organization, dental caries, also known as tooth decay, is the most common non-communicable disease on the planet.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that about half of adults in the United States have some form of gum disease, and that number rises to 70% of Americans over the age of 65.

A 2024 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that poor oral health, suboptimal dental visits, or infrequent flossing were associated with increased all-cause mortality.

The biggest problem, Hawes said, is that people either neglect their mouths or go to the other extreme and disinfect and sterilize their mouths, disrupting the balance of the oral microbiome.

Just like our guts, our mouths contain good and bad bacteria—billions of microorganisms in total. He notes that disrupting this delicate balance—such as using products that kill all bacteria in the mouth—can cause problems.

What is good oral health?

Hawes defines it as having a balanced oral microbiome and the correct growth and development of the mouth, resulting in a correct airway, a correct bite and a balanced face. He points out in the book that a healthy mouth can extend life expectancy by up to 10 years.

But if there is a problem and the oral cavity is unhealthy, it will affect all a person's health, including mental health. The number of conditions associated with periodontal disease is “incredible,” Hawes wrote, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer's disease.

He pointed out that oral health is closely related to overall physical health, but dentists are mostly trained to fill cavities or straighten teeth rather than prevent larger problems.

What’s the biggest oral health mistake people make?

These include the use of harsh oral care products containing alcohol and other ingredients that can alter the oral microbiome, which takes millions of years to evolve, Hawes said.

He's particularly horrified by antibacterial mouthwash, which, as advertised, kills 99 percent of everything and leaves behind “the baddest, toughest, roughest little microbes around – ready to retake over the entire mouth, completely.” not controlled by the organisms that controlled them in the past.” Bay,” he wrote in the book.

Hawes urges consumers to think of the mouth as a garden, where many beneficial oral microbes are like flowers and plants and harmful bacteria are like weeds.

“If you have weeds growing in your garden, you're not going to spread acid and herbicide all over the place and kill everything like we do in our mouths. (But) the antibacterial mouthwash we use can kill Everything,” he said. “What we're doing in our mouths right now is a disaster.”

Researchers previously told TODAY that some of the beneficial microbes that die after overuse of mouthwash are designed to help the body form nitric oxide, a chemical involved in blood flow that plays a role in regulating endothelial function, blood pressure and insulin sensitivity. Sexual aspects also play an important role.

Healthy Oral Care Routine

Hawes recommends taking the following steps:

  • Start your morning oral care routine before breakfast, not after, because whenever you eat, your mouth becomes acidic and can damage your enamel if you brush immediately – “The biggest thing I find people do The mistake is to brush your teeth after breakfast or after a meal, “he points out. This is when enamel is most susceptible to damage, so you need to wait at least 30 to 60 minutes after meals and drinks before brushing, he says.

  • When you wake up, use an alkaline mouthwash to restore your mouth's pH and loosen plaque and particles that have built up overnight. Rinse this way to reach areas of your mouth that your toothbrush cannot.

  • Floss to remove plaque from between teeth. Any floss is better than no floss, but regular floss is best because you're working with a clean surface every time, Hawes says. Handled flossers were his second choice, followed by water flossers.

  • Use a scraper or brush to clean your tongue, “because this is another area that people neglect and it's a big source of the bacteria that cause bad breath,” Hawes says.

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and brush with a safe and effective toothpaste.

  • Hawes recommends repeating this routine before bed, but in reverse order so that the last oral care product used before bed is an alkaline mouthwash.

  • During the 16 hours between morning and evening, he likes to use xylitol-containing oral spray or chew xylitol gum to balance the acidity in his mouth throughout the day.

“It doesn't have to be complicated: Brush and floss regularly with the right oral care products. Go to the dentist regularly,” says Hawes. “Your oral health affects every aspect of your life.”

This article was originally published on TODAY.com



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