Is Mouthwash Raising Your Blood Pressure?
(audience clapping) Who wakes up with fresh-smelling breath? You do? Yeah. (laughs)
You, for real? I don’t buy it. I don’t know anybody who wakes up with fresh breath. Most of us need to brush our teeth, maybe we even gargle. But if you exercise to lower your blood pressure, could that tingling antiseptic mouthwash wipe out the benefits of your workout? What am I talking about? Let’s delve into this. Joining us via Skype is a biochemist, Dr. Nathan Bryan. Welcome, Dr. Bryan. Welcome, Dr. Bryan.
Thank you. So break this down for us scientifically. Well, this story is all about nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is produced in the lining of the blood vessel and it regulates blood flow. And so one of the benefits of exercise is that it promotes nitric oxide production and it leads to lower blood pressure. But now what we’re finding is there are bacteria that live in our mouth that produce this gas that regulate blood pressure, and if you take antiseptic mouthwash and kill the good bacteria, you basically lose the benefits of exercise. In your opinion, should people stop using these antiseptic mouthwashes? Well I think there’s consequences to this and people have to look at things from a risk-benefit spectrum. And I think the evidence that’s emerging from this is that if you’re disrupting the good bacteria that are producing an essential molecule called nitric oxide, then this is not a good thing. You need nitric oxide to maintain normal blood pressure ’cause they’re bacteria that reduce nitrate to a molecule called nitrite. When you swallow your saliva, this generates nitric oxide gas, and this actually dilates blood vessels and normalizes blood pressure and basically regulates blood flow to every cell and every tissue in the body. So taking mouthwash that disrupts this is not a good thing. So I think if you’re just taking mouthwash to freshen up your breath and you don’t have any oral infections or dental issues, then I think the risks certainly outweigh the benefits from that. So people need to take caution. But Bryan, we know there are bad bacteria in our mouth as well that cause periodontal disease. So is what you’re saying the benefits of the mouthwash probably outweigh the risks? Yeah, but I think the dentist and the healthcare practitioner has to realize the consequences of that. I mean we have an epidemic of high blood pressure. Two out of three people in America have annulation in blood pressure, which you mention the number one modifiable or risk factor for heart attack and stroke. So if we can normalize blood pressure, and there’s this phenomenon called resistant hypertension that people don’t respond ________ of medication. So it could be an oral dispyosis. Over 200 million Americans wake up every morning and use mouthwash, and we publish a study showing that if you use mouthwash, your blood pressure goes up, and you stop using mouthwash, the blood pressure normal ____ So think again,
Fascinating. You have to…
Yeah. It should be _____ of the profession. ________ to that microbiome. I will overwhelmingly admit that if you go to talk to your doctor or even dentist about this, there’s a good chance they won’t know what you’re talking about. That’s just the guy _____ truth here. But if you do suffer from a high blood pressure and your medicines are not working, you’ve tried everything, I think this is certainly something to consider. And I think it also highlights something else. We know that good oral hygiene is important for good overall health. But there’s also too much of the good thing. I see some people, they’re brushing their teeth 10 times a day, and they’re gargling 10 times a day. It’s all balance. The balance of the microbiome and balance of the oral bacteria, the good, the bad. And so again, what I’ll say in my own life, I used to use the mouthwash in the morning and at night. And I’ve made the decision for me, I’m only using it in the morning now. Maybe, but I don’t have high blood pressure. Right, and you exercise.
So that’s my choice. So okay, and– But you should ask yourself, “Okay, am I using too much?” And if so, go talk to your dentist. “Do I have periodontal disease?” Talk to your doctor. “Do I have high blood pressure?” Who knew we had to put this much start into what we’re gargling?
Well actually, I was just very quickly thinking, Dr. Bryan, if you could even comment on gum and kind of mints, and how these all weigh into this discussion? With the xylitol, yeah.
Yeah. Well you know, most of the efforts have been focused on the gum microbiome. Very few people, I mean we’re one of there very few people who’ve focused on their oral microbiome. And the answer to your question is we don’t know, there’s so much that we don’t know. But what’s clear is an antiseptic mouthwash kills the bad guys also kills the good guys. And the results are pretty dramatic in terms of increasing blood pressure. So I think you have to ask yourself this fundamental question. I think the evidence is clear. And if you don’t have a reason for using mouthwash with an active oral infection or periodontal disease, then you shouldn’t use it. For me and my family, we don’t use mouthwash at all. We brush our teeth,
brush our tongues, brush our gums. And that’s sufficient. Well, Dr. Bryan. We certainly appreciate you enlightening us. Keep up the good work. Let us know if you find anything new. This is fascinating. I will.
(audience clapping) Obviously talk to your doctor before you change your regiment. Figure out what’s best for you.