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Your Mouthwash Can Give You High Blood Pressure

Your Mouthwash Can Give You High Blood Pressure
February 25, 2014

Your Mouthwash Can Give You High Blood Pressure!

In the past the presence and metabolic activities of oral bacteria has been traditionally associated with negative health effects ranging from bad breath and cavities to more serious gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis as well as contributing to cardiovascular disease and stroke. However, new studies are beginning to show that certain amounts of bacteria present in our mouths are actually beneficial to our health.  In fact, these bacteria may be a prime source in the process of converting nitrogen containing compounds back into nitric oxide in our blood which causes our blood smooth muscle to relax and lower our blood pressure.

Recently, groups of researchers from the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, and the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet of Stockhom, Sweden studied the effects of using a popular mouthwash prescribed  by oral clinicians to drastically reduce and control the population of natural oral bacteria in their subjects mouths. Since the presence of oral bacteria is crucial in the initial step of converting nitrogen compounds into nitric oxide in our bodies, this greatly reduced the amount of nitric oxide.  All these test subjects were healthy, non-smoking, disease free individuals who were placed on controlled healthy diets with low nitric acid producing foods.  Each subject used the antiseptic mouthwash twice-daily.

The results were AMAZING and a little disconcerting. After just 7 days, their urinary and plasma nitrogen levels were reduced significantly, and their oral nitrogen levels decreased almost 90%.  More importantly, their blood pressures (both systolic and diastolic) went up on an average of 3.3 mmHg and 2.2 mmHg respectively related to their drop in nitrogen levels,.  A direct cause and effect was drawn between the decrease in the presence of salivary nitrogen compounds, causing a decrease amount of circulating nitrogen compounds which in turn caused a decrease in the amount of nitric oxide available to the body, and thus, increased the test subjects blood pressures.

This study was a small study, but the results were dramatic and to be sure, future testing with larger groups will be necessary to clarify the relationship of blood pressure to the amount and type of bacteria in our mouths.  What one should do is beware of using mouthwashes on a daily basis to the point where it completely eliminates the “natural” balance in your mouth.  As dentists we prescribe certain mouthwashes regularly for our patients with gum disease (periodontal disease) because the threat of heart attack or stroke is serious.  However, for the majority of our patients, brushing and flossing with “periodic” use of mouthwashes appears to be the better regimen at the present time.  BUT… we’ll keep you posted if anything new develops to change this.  As for which mouthwash, stay away from those with “Alcohol’ because of its carcinogenic potential.

 

In Service to Our Community,

Dr. Gregory A. Hurt and Staff at the San Marcos Dental Center (760) 734-4311

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