6 Reasons why your mouthwash may be harming your health
First a little about Why you need Nitric Oxide
Nitric Oxide (NO) is important for maintaining open blood vessels so your blood can travel easily through the rest of your body. These relaxed blood vessels allow more oxygen to flow through to where the body needs it, such as the heart, brain and your muscles. It is important in the prevention of plaque formation.
So having adequate nitric oxide levels is important for heart health and balanced blood pressure and for sport performance.
How low Stomach Acid coomplicates the problem
The older we get the less NO we produce because older people tend to have lower levels of HCL. When your nitrate rich saliva is swallowed it reacts with the acidic gastric juices to form nitrous acid, thus if you have low stomach acid you have low NO.
Proton Pump Inhibitors and over the counter stomach acid medications can lower your stomach acid thus creating a host of problems. We need stomach acid! Often times we think we have elevated stomach acid levels because of acid reflux symptoms but in reality we may have low stomach acid. For more information on stomach acid I recommend the book “Why Stomach Acid is Good for You” by J. Wright, MD.
Eat these foods
But here is something interesting. Did you know that if you use an anti-septic mouthwash you may be lowering your NO levels right from the get go? Nitrates are found in leafy greens and beets. The bacteria on your tongue convert the nitrates in these foods into nitrites which circulate in the body to form NO. But if you use anti-septic mouthwash this will kill that bacteria that is needed on your tongue.
So there you go-another reason why you need to eat your leaf greens and other nitrate rich vegetables. Once you chew them well, it mixes with the saliva in your mouth. Having adequate levels of NO will help to manage your blood pressure and reduce systemic inflammation.
By not eating vegetables you already are at a disadvantage, which is a large portion of the US population thanks to the standard American diet.
And if you have heart disease, you can bet that your NO levels are low
But what if you do eat your vegetables daily but also use antibacterial mouthwash daily?
Guess what? It doesn’t matter how many nitrate rich foods you eat, because the anti-bacterial mouthwash will still kill the good bacteria on your tongue. So all that effort to eat healthy and you may not be reaping the full benefits.
A study found that using antiseptic mouthwash reduced oral nitrite production by 90% and plasma nitrite levels by 25%. Using the antibacterial mouthwash also correlated with higher blood pressure. For your heart health, blood pressure health and to reduce inflammation you are going to want to avoid these products.
What ingredient in anti-septic mouthwash is causing the problem?
Using these mouthwash products will disrupt your oral microflora. As you can see, your oral microflora is very important for overall health. The main ingredient is triclosan which is the antibacterial agent in these products such as Colgate Total Breeze mouthwash for example.
Triclosan is found in many other products, such as dial liquid soap, some cosmetics and some deodorants. For a complete list of products that contain triclosan, visit www.drbenkin.com
Not only does it affect your oral health but triclosan has other effects such as weakening the immune system (which is pretty ironic seeing how it is in soap!) Not only can it have an effect on your oral flora but it has been shown to alter gut flora.
Is my mouthwash affecting my weight?
Studies have shown that by altering the gut flora it can alter your weight. Studies have shown a link between triclosan levels in the body and body mass. So if you are trying to lose weight, that’s another reason to avoid triclosan containing products.
To sum it up: 6 ways how anti-septic mouthwash can impact your health
- Disrupt the microbiome
- Contribute to weight gain
- Weaken the immune system
- Contribute to high blood pressure
- Contribute to heart disease
- Contribute to systemic inflammation
What are my options instead of using my mouthwash?
You may be using these mouthwash products to destroy germs that cause bad breath. You do have other options. You can switch to mouthwashes that are all natural and free of these chemicals.
Since you now know how important the microflora is in your mouth, I like probiotic products that use strains that have shown in studies to support optimal health benefits of your gums, teeth and mouth. These probiotic products will also reduce the bad breath that you have been using the mouth wash for. I personally like Great Oral Health Advanced Oral probiotics. (I have no affiliation with them what so ever).
There are several oral probiotics products so you need to do some research to pick the one best for you. You can also try oil pulling daily to reduce bad breath and support oral health. In the end there are many healthier options for bad breath and oral health than anti-bacterial mouthwashes!
Herbs can be restorative and preventative for your oral health. You can make them into a tea and swish in your mouth. Another option is to rub some tincture of one of the herbs along the gum line. Or you can add a little of the tincture into your toothpaste.
More on which herbs to use for a mouthwash and an easy mouthwash recipe!
If you like this information and feel it can be of use to someone else, please pass it on!
Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition. Pengrove, CA: Bauman College
Gregor, M. (1/26/16) Antibacterial toothpaste: Harmful, helpful or harmless? Retrieved from
Kapil, V. et. al. (nd) Physiological role for nitrate-reducing oral bacteria in blood pressure control.
Retrieved from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate), author of the E book Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC believes in food first when addressing the root causes to your health conditions. For more information, visit her website at www.trufoodsnutrition.com