Last night I saw an ad for a popular antiseptic mouthwash touting its ability to kill “97% of germs left behind after brushing”. While it may sound like a good thing to have few germs living in our mouths, it’s actually quite a bad idea.
We’ve been brainwashed into thinking ALL bacteria are harmful to us when in fact we would be in truly poor health without the beneficial, probiotic bacteria that live in our guts and mouths, on our skins and elsewhere. We need these good bacteria. And when we use antiseptic mouthwashes regularly to kill most of the bacteria in our mouths, we can do serious harm to our health. A good balance of bacteria in our guts is vital to our health … and the same is true of our mouths. (Rowen, 2009)
Chlorhexidine, an antiseptic and disinfectant with a broad spectrum of action, is used in some antiseptic mouthwashes to reduce plaque and kill various bacteria, viruses, bacterial spores and fungi. (Netdoctor, 2013) Chlorhexidine has both bacteriostatic (stops bacteria from reproducing while not otherwise harming them) and bactericidal (kills bacteria) effects, depending on factors such as pH and concentration. It is bactericidal at concentrations as low as 0.05%. (Wikipedia, 2/12/2014)
A recent study published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine found that using an antiseptic mouthwash twice daily kills off the good bacteria that help blood vessel walls relax, increasing the risk of coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke and a variety of other health issues. Approximately one third of American adults have high blood pressure, often without any signs of symptoms. Chronically high blood pressure can damage the body and affects how the blood is pushed against the arterial walls while the heart is pumping blood. (Borreli, 2014)
Using an antiseptic mouthwash kills off beneficial bacteria living on the back of the tongue, thereby interfering with the body’s ability to create nitric oxide. A reduction in plasma nitrite levels is associated with elevations in blood pressure.