Each person may have their own version of a morning and evening routine, but the one constant is that everyone should be taking care of their teeth at the beginning and end of the day. Research shows that staying on top of your oral hygiene can provide serious health benefits extending well beyond your mouth. But now, a dentist is warning that one common habit you may see as helpful is actually a "disaster" for your teeth. Read on to see which daily practice you may want to nix from your routine.
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Avoid these things after your morning brushing routine.
While the most important thing about any oral hygiene routine is consistency, some seemingly harmless habits can still lessen the effectiveness of your brushing, even after you've gone through all those necessary steps. According to dentists, this includes rinsing out excess toothpaste with water after you spit.
"Rinsing our mouth with water is very bad for our teeth, as it washes away the protective fluoride left behind by brushing," according to Nigel Carter, BDS, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation. "Fluoride is the single most important ingredient in toothpaste. It greatly helps oral health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. It also reduces the amount of acid that the bacteria on your teeth produce."
Even though dousing your gums may not be causing any problems for your teeth outright, it may minimize the benefits of brushing. "By spitting toothpaste out then not rinsing with water, it ensures that the fluoride found in the majority of toothpastes will remain on the teeth and continue to be effective," Carter says. But besides what you do immediately after scrubbing your teeth clean, there's still one hygiene habit that could damage your mouth more than you realize.
A dentist warns that one oral hygiene habit is a "disaster" for your teeth.
In an ideal world, most people would be doing as much as possible to keep their teeth in top condition. That's why many take the time to floss as much as recommended and use rinses to ensure they're getting everything as clean as possible. But according to one dentist, using the wrong type of mouthwash can be bad for your teeth in a surprising way.
"If there was a weed growing in your garden, you wouldn't just throw acid and weed killer all over and kill everything, the way we do it in our mouth. [But] we take antiseptic mouthwash that kills everything," Kami Hoss, DDS, writes in If Your Mouth Could Talk: An In-Depth Guide to Oral Health and Its Impact on Your Entire Life, per NBC's Today show. "What we do in the mouth is a disaster right now."
Products that are too strong can leave behind bad microbes in your mouth.
The feeling of swishing your mouth with a bold rinse can be particularly invigorating and refreshing. But while it may make everything seem super clean, mouthwash products containing alcohol and other harsh ingredients actually do too good of a job when it comes to wiping out the microscopic organisms that play a part in your oral health all day between brushings.
According to researchers, not all things living in your mouth are harmful. This includes microbes that help the body produce the nitric oxide it needs to help regulate membranes inside the heart and blood vessels, blood flow, blood pressure, and insulin sensitivity, Today reports.
By opting for an antiseptic mouthwash that eliminates all but one percent of the microorganisms in your mouth, you're throwing off the natural balance by leaving only "the baddest, toughest, roughest little microbes around—poised to recolonize that entire mouth, totally unchecked by the organisms that used to hold them at bay," Hoss writes.
Using the right mouthwash at the right time can provide plenty of protection for your teeth.
Fortunately, Hoss says rethinking your routine in some fundamental ways can help you see some immediate benefits, especially when it comes to timing everything. Saying "the biggest mistake" is brushing your teeth after eating breakfast, he recommends instead starting your day by rinsing your mouth with an alkaline mouthwash to loosen particles in the mouth and restore a proper pH balance, Today reports. From there, you should floss, use a tongue scraper, and then use a soft-bristled toothbrush to finish out the routine, noting that this process should be done in reverse before going to bed at night.
"It's not really complicated: Brush and floss routinely using the right oral care products. Visit your dentist regularly," Hoss told Today. "Your oral health impacts every part of your life."