Study Connects Mouthwash Use with Higher BP

family dentist in Powell

You don’t need a family dentist in Powell to tell you that brushing and flossing daily remain a key part of maintaining a healthy, great looking smile.

Brushing works to remove harmful oral bacteria from the surface of our teeth and along the gum line.

Flossing cleans areas of our teeth a toothbrush cannot reach, such as between teeth and below the gum line.

The daily oral hygiene routines our patients practice remain a key part, along with regular visits to see a family dentist in Powell, of preventing the types of dental decay and disease responsible for damaging the health of a smile.

To add an additional layer of protection, many patients also rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash to eliminate any pockets of bacteria they may have missed.

While this habit has long been recommended by dentists as an extra precautionary step, a recent study has found that using an antibacterial mouthwash could inhibit the blood pressure lowering effects typically produced by exercising.

Wait, mouthwash affects our blood pressure?

We understand how that sounds rather confusing. How could using mouthwash interfere with how our body naturally lowers blood pressure?

Well, when we consume foods that contain nitrates, certain types of bacteria in the mouth transform those nitrates into nitrite. The body then processes nitrite into nitric oxide, a compound that works to reducing blood pressure.

From earlier studies, we know that exercising lowers blood pressure by a sustained production of nitric oxide.

The waste product of nitric oxide utilization is nitrate.

Saliva glands in the body work to dispose of excess nitrate buildup in the blood by excreting it into saliva. However, once in the mouth, that saliva can be reverted back into nitrate by oral bacteria.

This cycle led researchers to wonder if killing the friendly oral bacteria in the mouth responsible for extracting nitrate from saliva would have an impact on blood pressure regulation, and if would reduce the effect exercise has on lower blood pressure?

Examining the Evidence

An earlier Swedish study asked healthy participants to rinse twice a day with an antibacterial mouthwash.

After just one week, researchers discovered that the blood pressure of participants increased by between two to four points.

The participants also had their blood nitrite levels drop by 25 percent.

While these numbers may not sound all that significant, an individual’s risk for cardiovascular disease directly relates to their blood pressure, point by point. Just a two to four point swing actually increased their risk for cardiovascular disease by seven percent.

A second study asked participants to exercise on two separate occasions. Following one exercise period, participants were asked to rinse with mouthwash. After the second session, they were asked to rinse with a minty placebo.

Following the exercise period where participants rinsed with mouthwash, participants had a higher systolic blood pressure on average of slightly over three points.

In both of the studies, researchers used a mouthwash that contain chlorhexidine, a potent bactericidal solution only available by prescription in the U.S.

While most people don’t use prescription-strength mouthwash on a daily basis, researchers worry that altering the microbiome of the mouth could still have negative effects, even if patients only used over-the-counter mouthwash that contains alcohol and other less stringent bactericidal compounds.

Like a healthy stomach, the mouth requires the maintenance and delicate balance of both bad and beneficial bacteria.

When the pendulum swings too far in either direction, our oral health can suffer as a whole.

A Family Dentist in Powell Can Help to Protect Your Oral Health

The mouth acts like a gateway to the rest of our body. When that gateway remains healthy, it significantly reduces our risk for developing the kind of chronic health problems that undermine our quality of life.

Fortunately, you can work to bolster your oral health by scheduling regular exams and cleanings with the team at Frontier Family Dental.

Regular exams provide Dr. Williams with the opportunity to spot any signs of dental decay or disease while still easily treatable.

Frequent cleanings offer our team of gentle dental hygienists with the chance to remove any tartar deposits from the surface of your teeth.

When combined with daily brushing and flossing, regular dental care can provide your teeth with the protection needed that you can skip using mouthwash.