Is using a mouthwash a part of your morning or evening routine? Maybe it shouldn’t be, according to this budding new research. Though mouthwash is meant to protect your teeth and gums by preventing cavities, plaque build up and bad breath — it may actually be increasing your risk of having a heart attack.
In a British study published by Free Radical Biology and Medicine, researchers found that there is indeed a link between antiseptic mouthwash use and heart attacks. In fact, antiseptic mouthwashes were found to increase blood pressure up to 3.5 points. Studies show that even a 2-point blood pressure rise increases heart attack risk by 7%, while the risk of stroke increases by 10%.
The main ingredient in most conventional antiseptic mouthwashes is chlorohexidine, which prohibits nitrite production by killing off the bacteria and enzymes necessary to produce it. Nitrite helps blood vessels dilate appropriately, and without dilated blood vessels, your blood pressure will begin to rise dramatically. Participants in the study experienced a 90% decrease in nitrite production, while blood nitrite levels dropped 25% after using mouthwash.
Given these new findings, the best thing to do now is to look for a natural mouthwash that doesn’t contain chlorohexidine and has more beneficial ingredients, such as peppermint, witch hazel or baking soda.