You’ve seen the commercials: someone standing in front of a bathroom mirror, making funny faces, and gurgling mouthwash. The scene is so familiar — as well as the resulting smile, and the facts and figures arguing the benefits of mouthwash — but probably you’re wondering what the experts think. Should mouthwash be part of your daily teeth cleaning routine, right there beside brushing twice a day, and flossing once?

As it turns out, the answers are sort of a mixed bag. Mouthwash can be especially helpful at fighting harmful bacteria to control gum disease for those suffering from chronic dry mouth (xerostomia). But if you use it at the wrong time, it can actually limit the effectiveness of other oral hygiene steps like brushing. Also, according to a recent study, it seems regularly using mouthwash may have a part to play in raising blood pressure levels.

pouring a capful of blue mouthwash

Mouthwash May Raise Your Blood Pressure

Published in the journal, Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, researchers studying the effectiveness of mouthwash found that a particular antiseptic compound contained in mainy name brand products could be killing “friendly” bacteria that can help maintain healthy blood pressure levels. While we’re still far from a comprehensive understanding of our body’s microbiome, particularly our oral microbiome, many studies have found that a diverse and well-balanced oral microbiome can ward off many disease.

Oppositely, other studies have found that when this balance is upset, diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes can occur. New research suggests that bacteria that helps convert dietary nitrate into nitric oxide (NO) can help maintain normal blood pressure. In this study, conducted by the Department of Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine, researchers found that chlorhexidine, an antiseptic substance usually found in prescription mouthwash, may kill NO-producing bacteria, raising blood pressure levels.

Other Ways to Keep Your Mouth Healthy

Unarguably, the most important steps to take in keeping your mouth healthy is brushing twice a day, and flossing once a day. When choosing toothpaste, keep in mind that although the mechanical motion of brushing can help to remove plaque buildup, fluoride-containing toothpastes help to slow the demineralization process in teeth, which is the first step in tooth decay. Brushing can also help to clear plaque from hard-to-reach places like below the gumline.

Mouthwash can be helpful for some patients, especially those with chronic dry mouth. Saliva naturally washes bacteria from teeth, and when it’s not present, it can dramatically increase your chances of tooth decay. The best way to determine if mouthwash is right for you is to speak with your dentist directly. Remember: the American Dental Association suggests visiting the dentist twice a year for a checkup and cleaning.

If you are looking for a Wichita Falls dentist to protect the health and beauty of your smile, please call 940-322-2252 today for an appointment at StarImage Dentistry.