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Is Mouthwash Getting Your Heart Racing?

Don’t you just love the feeling of a fresh mouth after rinsing with mouthwash? While getting rid of bacteria in your mouth may make you feel better, you could be putting yourself at risk for a wide range of health problems, especially hypertension. Some mouthwashes, especially those with prescription-strength have been linked to increased blood pressure, due to eliminating good bacteria in your saliva that your body uses to process nutrients and create nitric oxide (NO). It may be time to rethink your daily oral hygiene routine, based on these findings.

New research has shown certain prescription mouthwashes may increase your blood pressure, leading to hypertension issues. The reason being that good bacteria which produces nitric oxide (NO) is destroyed by the antiseptic compound chlorhexidine found in some commonly prescribed mouthwashes.

NO plays a key role in maintaining healthy levels of blood pressure. Without good bacteria in the mouth helping to convert NO, significant increases of systolic blood pressure are seen. In a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition researchers highlighted the importance of nitrates and nitrites in immunology and heart health. “Yet, the very first thing over 200 million Americans do each day is to use an antiseptic mouthwash, which destroys the ‘good bacteria’ that helps to create the NO. These once thought ‘good’ habits may be doing more harm than good,” states study author Nathan Bryan.

For older patients, the risk of hypertension linked with a mouthwash containing chlorhexidine was astounding, due to the body generating less NO as we age. In a related study, researchers stated: “aging is associated with an impaired capacity of the vasculature to increase plasma nitrite during exercise.”

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, researchers found that good bacteria returned to the mouth shortly after stopping their mouthwash regimens. Talk to your dentist and health care provider about your concerns for heart health before making any changes to your prescriptions, and weigh the pros and cons with them in their office.

Please feel free to call us at Elite Boca Dental if you have any concerns about mouthwash. We would love to have the opportunity of discussing and helping you with any oral health questions you might have.