Scientists know that the bacteria in our guts influence overall health, but perhaps less obvious is the connection between oral bacteria and a variety of health conditions.
Medical News Today recently reported on a range of studies that linked gum disease and the buildup of certain bacteria in the mouth with Alzheimer disease. cardiovascular disease and respiratory conditions.
Another recent article showed how a specific oral bacterium could speed up the progression of colorectal cancer and make the disease more aggressive.
These studies focused on bacteria that cause disease, but, just like our guts, our mouths also contain “friendly” bacteria, which are necessary for maintaining good health.
New research points out that a balanced oral microbiome helps maintain good cardiovascular health by helping the conversion of dietary nitrate
into nitric oxide (NO) — a signaling molecule that helps maintain normal blood pressure.
Worryingly, however, the new study shows that chlorhexidine, an antiseptic substance in mouthwash, may kill NO-producing bacteria, which in turn, may raise systolic blood pressure.
Mouthwash ‘may do more harm than good’
Bryan and colleagues used “16S rRNA gene sequencing and analysis” to examine whether using chlorhexidine antiseptic mouthwash twice a day for 1 week changed the oral bacterial communities and blood pressure levels in 26 healthy individuals.
After 1 week, the 26 study volunteers went back to their usual oral hygiene practices.
The researchers collected samples of the participants’ saliva and tongue scrapings and measured their blood pressure at four different points throughout the study: at baseline, then 7, 10, and 14 days later.
Bryan and colleagues report that “twice-daily chlorhexidine usage was associated with a significant increase in systolic blood pressure after 1 week of use and recovery from use resulted in an enrichment in nitrate-reducing bacteria on the tongue.”
Culled from Medical News Today.