Scientists are warning that some mouthwash products, because of their bacteria killing properties, may increase heart attack and stroke risks.
When the mouthwash is swilled in the mouth, the product kills the good bacteria. This causes blood vessels to relax and increases blood pressure, according to The Daily Mail. When study volunteers used the mouthwash, Corsodyl, blood pressure rates rose in just a few hours. Corsodyl contains a strong antiseptic.
Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, research lead, said “Killing off all these bugs each day is a disaster, when small rises in blood pressure have significant impact on morbidity and mortality from heart disease and stroke.” The study looked at blood pressure levels in 19 healthy participants who had used the mouthwash two times a day. Research revealed that blood pressure levels rose between 2 and 3.5 minutes, The Daily Mail reported.
The researchers indicated that the increased blood pressure “appeared within one day” of using the mouthwash, according to the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine. For every two-point blood pressure rise, the heart disease death risks increased by seven percent, according to a separate study. The increase was also tied to increased fatal stroke risks by 10 percent.
“We are not telling people to stop using antiseptic mouthwashes if they have a gum or tooth infection—but we would ask why anyone else would want to,” said Professor Ahluwalia. Corsodyl contains 0.2 percent, by volume, of the antiseptic, chlorhexidine. Other antiseptic mouthwashes also contain chlorhexidine in the same concentration, according to The Daily Mail.
Chlorhexidine kills microbes needed to create nitrite. Nitrite is needed to ensure the proper dilation of blood vessels, according to The Daily Mail. Use of the antiseptic mouthwash led to a drop in oral nitrate production by 90 percent. Blood nitrite levels also fell by 25 percent.
Corsodyl, which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, is meant for short-term use, for the purpose of stopping plaque development, and to prevent gum disease. The daily use version of the product, Corsodyl Daily, contains 0.06 percent chlorhexidine, wrote The Daily Mail.
Not all mouthwashes contain chlorhexidine; however, Professor Ahluwalia noted that “Other mouthwashes could still disrupt the healthy bacteria,” The Daily Mail reported. In the United States, chlorhexidine mouthwashes are available by prescription only
Clinical trials reveal that chlorhexidine, which is the active ingredient in prescription mouthwashes, has increased antibacterial properties when compared to ingredients in over-the-counter (OTC) mouthwash brands, according to RealSimple. These products are the only mouthwashes approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of gum disease, such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
Chlorhexidine may stain teeth a dingy brown and mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine are prescription-only to ensure that dentists monitor for this staining, RealSimple wrote.