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Mouthwashes - A popular tool for oral hygiene
Mouthwashes are now part of every household's inventory. They are a popular tool to fight gum infections, plaque, tooth decay and bad breath. Even dentists make their recommendations for mouthwashes with chlorhexidine. This broad-spectrum antiseptic is used in addition to normal tooth cleaning; mouthwashes with chlorhexidine are commercially available without a prescription.
Chlorhexidine - Helpful or Not?
Chlorhexidine, which is often used in mouthwashes, is an antiseptic, which, however, not only destroys the harmful bacteria, but also the useful oral flora and can thus lead to high blood pressure. Because the tasks of these useful bacteria include regulating blood pressure, for example. Researchers from the University of Texas and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston have now shown in a recent study how chlorhexidine also leads to increased blood pressure. The study was published in the Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology.
Success with chlorhexidine
Chlorhexidine adheres to the teeth and oral mucosa for a very long time, which explains its long-lasting effect. The antibacterial property is said to prevent tooth decay and plaque. When using chlorhexidine for a period of at least four weeks, dental specimens were successfully reduced. Tooth inflammation has only improved to a very slight extent, with reliable inflammation in the oral cavity, no reliable improvement was found.
Side effects of chlorhexidine
The chlorhexidine contained in mouthwashes can often lead to discoloration of the teeth when used for longer than four weeks, sometimes also to tartar, a temporary impairment of taste and damage to the oral mucosa. Mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine are therefore not suitable for permanent use.
Mouthwashes can raise blood pressure
Of course, chlorhexidine damages not only the oral mucosa itself, but also the beneficial bacteria that make up our oral flora, including those that would normally help keep blood pressure at a normal healthy level, as the study shows.
Researchers at the University of Texas and the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston showed that chlorhexidine destroys the beneficial bacteria in the oral flora that are involved in the conversion of nitrate to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide in particular is a signaling molecule that keeps blood pressure stable. If these beneficial bacteria are missing, the regulating nitric oxide is also missing and blood pressure rises.
When does blood pressure rise
After just one week, it was found in the study mentioned that mouthwash twice a day with chlorhexidine changed the oral flora and the blood pressure at the same time. For this purpose, saliva samples and tongue swabs were taken several times from the study participants. Blood pressure was also measured regularly, at the beginning of the study and at the end. The researchers report that their subjects' systolic blood pressure had clearly increased after just one week. Only after stopping the mouthwash was the oral flora able to regenerate again, the blood pressure slowly regulated again, since the useful nitrogen monoxide-producing bacteria could now resettle and multiply in the oral flora.
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New approach in the treatment of hypertension
This new finding is of enormous importance in view of the millions of hypertension patients worldwide, especially since two out of three of these patients still have high blood pressure despite antihypertensive medication without knowing exactly why. Thanks to this study, one could now also include the oral flora in the therapy of high blood pressure and take measures that contribute to the reorganization of the oral flora so that the nitrogen monoxide-producing bacteria can resettle. Of course, a healthy diet is also one of the prerequisites for an intact oral flora.
Blood pressure regulation with nitric oxide
According to the researchers, nitric oxide is one of the most important signaling molecules in the human body. It therefore occurs almost everywhere in the organism, and the nitrogen monoxide produced in the oral cavity can also perform many other important health tasks in addition to regulating blood pressure. Therefore, antiseptic mouthwash that millions of people use every morning is unfortunately a habit that does more harm than is desirable. (fm)