This MD Doesn’t Want You To Use Mouthwash For Bad Breath

Sure, the gut microbiome has quickly made its way into everyday vernacular (at least in the health and well-being space), but did you know your mouth has a microbiome as well? Just as how there are trillions of microorganisms residing in your gut (and nose!), you have a similar system between your lips. In fact, the two are intimately connected: “The mouth is the entrance way into your whole digestive system,” Lipman says. “The oral microbiome is really important.” Studies have even shown that oral bacteria can actually travel towards the gut and change its microbiota. It’s the literal portal to your gut health, if you will. 

And just like in your gut, you want a healthy balance of good bacteria. Think about it: When you abolish all the bacteria (like, say, through rounds upon rounds of antibiotics), gut issues typically ensue. Same goes for the mouth, as traditional mouthwashes sweep away all the bacteria—good and bad—to give you that wintergreen feeling. Which helps in the short-term, sure, but your oral microbiome might suffer down the line—for instance, you could face some chronically stinky breath. 

Of course, we need way more research on the oral microbiome front before we can make any clear assumptions. We’re just starting to scratch the surface in terms of the science, but Lipman’s verdict is clear: “Traditional mouthwashes and toothpastes are not the best thing for your microbiome.” 

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