Functional Medicine Associates on What Increases Heart Attack and Stroke Risk

Are you using mouthwash as a method of cleaning your teeth?

Or, a way to keep your breath fresh in-between meetings? With the best intentions, mouthwash use may backfire on our health. Whilst we think we may be protecting ourselves from germs that increase our risk of dental issues we are increasing our risk of heart attack and Stroke.

In a paper published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine 2013, Mouthwashes containing the antiseptic Chlorhexidine reduced the ability of bacteria (on the last third of our tongue) to convert dietary nitrate into nitrite and ultimately Nitric Oxide.

This reduced Nitric Oxide production showed participants blood pressure rise between 2 to 3.5mg, with a noticeable effect found within one day of use.

Although this is a small rise in blood pressure it is a significant one according to the authors of the study.

The findings do not apply to all mouthwashes as not all contain the chemical Chlorhexidine, but the authors do caution that other mouthwashes may also damage the mouths healthy bacteria.

Like all studies there are limitations and these are discussed fully in the full paper which you can find here.

Mouthwashes do have their role but their use should be under the advice of a dentist. The authors caution any use of these mouthwashes for general use and for freshening the breath.

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