While watching the morning news (you know, the tidbits of news aired between direct-to-consumer drug ads), a commercial came on claiming that a new mouthwash kills 99.9% of all bacteria in the mouth, good-looking young people gazing at each other with inviting smiles.
Now why would you do that? Why would you wipe clean a bodily orifice that is meant to be teeming with microorganisms?
The human gastrointestinal tract, as well as the airway, vagina, skin, and other body parts, are all meant to be colonized with microorganisms. It represents an important symbiotic relationship: we support their health and they support ours. Imagine the same kind of attitude in wiping out oral flora was applied to the gastrointestinal tract and we took potent antibiotics to wipe it clean every day: Health is not supported—we lose the intestinal healing, metabolic support, nutrients, mind and emotional effects that bowel flora provide, huge health benefits that shape human life. Even worse, after antibiotics wipe out bowel flora, various species recolonize the intestines, but often dominated by undesirable species, such as Enterobacteriaceae like E. coli, Shigella, Klebsiella, Clostridia strains, as well as fungi like Candida albicans and others that have major negative impacts on human health and lead, over time, to bloating, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia, diverticular disease, colon cancer and many other conditions.
Just as you are healthier with a healthy spectrum of bowel flora, so you have better oral health with a healthy spectrum of oral flora. Emerging insights into the oral microbiome demonstrate, for instance, that mouthwashes increase blood pressure by wiping out species that produce nitric oxide, a potent mediator of artery tone. Starches like grain amylopectin, like sucrose, promote tooth decay by encouraging cavity-causing bacterial species like Streptococcus mutans. Changes in oral flora even appear to increase risk for pancreatic cancer, perhaps by contributing to body-wide inflammation and/or altering the immune response. The composition of oral flora and the mucous biofilm they inhabit even affect taste perception. (Could this be part of the reason why macaroni and cheese-consuming kids hate broccoli and Brussels sprouts?)
You might argue that mouthwashes are necessary for not having bad breath, a modern necessity for social and intimate settings. But a life minus all wheat, grains, and sugars is a far better answer, one that reduces/eliminates plaque, reduces potential for cavities to near zero, and is the natural way to not have bad breath while allowing microorganisms to happily recolonize your mouth. Pour that antiseptic mouthwash down the sink along with your hand sanitizers, squeaky-clean shampoo, and antibacterial soap.