You can’t separate the health of the mouth from the rest of the body. Yet there are many popular oral health recommendations that seem to suggest you can. If you’re wondering why you have cavities in spite of having a healthy diet and lifestyle, reconsider the following daily habits that do more harm than good.
1. Creating microbiome imbalances with harsh mouthwashes
When people suffer from bad breath, increased plaque, and other signs of imbalance, they often turn to antimicrobial or hydrogen peroxide-based mouthwashes. However, harsh mouthwashes can actually intensify the problem they’re intended to solve.
Conventional mouthwashes are often formulated with alcohol, synthetic dyes, sweeteners and other chemicals that indiscriminately kill microbes. In their clumsiness, they eliminate pathogenic (bad) microbes as well as those important (good) microbes for regulating other bodily processes. This disruption in oral microbiome balance increases the likelihood of bad breath, cavities and other oral health issues.
When used correctly, a mouthwash serves a useful function—the physical force of swishing can dislodge food stuck between teeth and other places hard to reach through brushing alone. But conventional mouthwashes simply don’t address the root causes of bad breath or cavities that are mostly caused from pH imbalance or oral-microbiome level imbalance.
Instead of antimicrobial toothpastes and mouthwashes, try the following:
- A gentle, homemade mouthwash using baking soda, salt and water. Baking soda is often in toothpaste because it neutralizes the acidity of plaque and has antibacterial properties. Salt has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and reduces pain associated with cavities and inflammation. You can mix 1/4 a teaspoon of baking soda, ⅛ a teaspoon of salt, and one cup of warm water and swirl it within your mouth. You can also add a teaspoon of OJOOK toothpaste for more cavity protection from the remineralizing properties of nano-hydroxyapatite, its key ingredient.
- Oil pulling. An ancient Ayurvedic practice, involves swishing coconut, sesame or sunflower oil in the mouth from 5 to 20 minutes. A study by Journal of the Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry found that oil pulling reduced the cavity causing Streptococcus mutans bacteria, a strong contributor to tooth decay. Oil pulling is best performed in the morning prior to eating and drinking. When you do it, be sure to avoid swallowing the oil, and spit it into a garbage rather than a sink or toilet where it can congeal and create plumbing-related blockages.
2. Using floss made with polyester fiber and PTFE / PFAS (teflon) coating
Flossing at least once a day is considered the holy grail of oral care, but be sure your floss is made of materials that are safe for your body and the environment.
A review investigating the presence of microplastics in fish, shellfish, sugar, beer, and water estimated that the average person ingest between 74,000 and 121,000 microplastic particles annually. People who drink water only through bottled sources ingest an added 90,000 microplastics each year. Plastic has endocrine-disrupting effects that can interfere with thyroid health, cause hormone dysregulation, weight gain and more. Given the range of plastic containing-items you encounter daily, you’ll want to avoid microplastics in your floss, especially since you’re using it around such delicate and extremely absorbent tissues, the gums.
More alarmingly, this 2019 study found that women who used PFASs-coated, so-called “gliding” type dental floss had higher concentrations of a chemical called perfluorohexane sulfonic acid (PFHxS) in their blood than those who didn’t. PFHxS are part of a class of persistent chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which are linked to liver and immune system damage, cancer, heart disease, and developmental issues.
Known as “forever chemicals,” PFASs chemicals once enter our body, they won’t ever go away. Beyond dental floss, PFASs are also in nonstick cookware, food packaging, waterproof clothing, and they even persist in drinking water systems. They’re absolutely worth limiting wherever you can.
For a floss that won’t expose you to plastic particles, PFASs and other endocrine disrupting chemicals, try OJOOK Silk Floss. Silk is a minimally processed and eco-friendly material that can be composted at home. Its naturally elastic, soft and bouncy texture makes it highly compatible with and gentle on sensitive gums.
3. Weakening enamel with constant snacking and drinking
Even if you eat a healthy diet, your eating habits may still negatively impact the health of your teeth. A healthy mouth has a neutral to slightly alkaline pH of 7. As the pH of the mouth becomes more acidic, with a pH of 5.5 and below, teeth become more susceptible to damage.
The following acidic food groups might be considered healthy, but they’re extremely harsh on tooth enamel and oral microbiome:
- Carbonated water
- Lemon water
- Fermented foods & drinks
The key is to have proper time between snacking and drinking for saliva to do its job to restore oral microbiome and pH balance. When you eat or drink acidic foods, bacteria produce acid and lower the pH of the mouth. When prolonged, acidity weakens tooth enamel, which then provokes demineralization of the teeth. While saliva restores neutrality, this process can take up to two hours.
Drinking a smoothie or a cup of coffee, for instance, for 30 minutes over breakfast is better than sipping it throughout the day. This might also mean limiting throat lozenges, especially if they’re sugary. Although lozenges or cough drops can reduce pain from a sore jaw or mouth sore, if they’re contributing to regular acidity, they might be creating other problems.
4. Brushing your teeth when they’re soft and defenseless
Has anyone told you to brush your teeth after eating? They’re only half right. Closely related to the point above, this habit can wear away at enamel. If you brush your teeth immediately after eating acidic foods, more likely it can cause enamel erosion. Acidity softens the tooth surface and harms the protective minerals within the enamel. Ironically, the bristles of your toothbrush can actually wear away at the tooth, causing fissures which can then later accumulate harmful bacteria and cause cavities.
Many people try to correct unhealthy food choices by brushing immediately afterward, but this makes matters worse. Instead, rinse your mouth with water and wait up to two hours after eating to brush your teeth. During this time, saliva production will increase and neutralize the pH of your mouth and remineralize your teeth. This is why brushing as soon as you wake up (rather than waiting until after breakfast) can be beneficial.
Try OJOOK nano-hydroxyapatite (nHA) toothpaste that rebuilds enamel, making it nourishing for damaged teeth. Since it is an organic material that occurs within the body, nHA bonds directly to the teeth, restoring demineralized areas. nHA is also helpful for alleviating tooth sensitivity and reducing cavities.
Create daily habits that support every system in your body
Good oral care rituals allow for a finely tuned orchestration between the mouth and the rest of the body. By focusing on replacing habits that harm the balance of the oral microbiome, your whole body will appreciate it in the long term.