Is Antiseptic Mouthwash Hurting Your Heart?

Written by Reid Winick, DDS

Many people use antiseptic mouthwash nightly to quickly refresh and clean their mouth after brushing their teeth. But did you know this daily habit could be harming your body more than helping?

According to a recent study in Free Radical Biology and Medicine journal, antiseptic mouthwashes can actually increase blood pressure, heart attack and stroke risks if used daily.

Chlorhexidine, a powerful antiseptic and disinfectant, is used in many mouthwashes, and may increase blood pressure up to 3.5 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) which significantly raises your heart attack risk. Sure, it also reduces plaque and kills off most germs in your mouth, but it does not distinguish between “bad bugs” and “good bugs.” We actually need these good bugs in our digestive tract, as they are essential to human nutrition, averting and reducing many different conditions.

This “friendly flora” helps create nitrite, which is needed for the healthy dilation of blood vessels. When the friendly flora is killed off, the risk of coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and a variety of other health issues increases.

Study participants held a nitrite-rich solution in their mouths for 5 minutes. Those who had used a chlorhexidine-based antibacterial mouthwash seven days before the test showed nitrite production in the mouth to fall by over 90 percent, and blood nitrite to fall by 25 percent.

Rather than using an antiseptic mouthwash, I suggest freshening your breath with a natural herbal mouthwash. Start thinking of the bigger picture: your entire body. Start eating a diet that includes herbs and spices such as cilantro, spearmint, tarragon, eucalyptus, rosemary and cardamom; fermented, live culture foods such as plain kefir and yogurt; crunchy, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots and celery; fruits high in vitamin C such as berries, citrus fruits and melons.

You can also use warm water and salt for mouthwash (sometimes simple is the best solution). Bad bacteria cannot thrive in a neutral pH and this mixture keeps the pH of the mouth healthy. You can add a drop of essential oils to make it taste better — I recommend wintergreen or peppermint flavor.

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

More On This Topic

Beat Inflammation

Beat Inflammation
More Health

Popular Stories

Latest Articles

Latest Articles

Sites We Love

Your article and new folder have been saved!