You know how important it is to take care of your teeth. We’ve even talked about it a few times here in Healthier Talk. After all, you only get the one set.
And just as important is the connection between dental care, chronic inflammation and heart health.
But it turns out in our effort to keep our mouths minty fresh we may have been compromising our health in another way. Because as bizarre as it sounds, researchers now say our love for mouthwash could one day lead to a diabetes diagnosis.
If you (or a loved one) is a frequent mouthwash user, you’re going to want to keep reading.
Diabetes risk rose 55% with frequent mouthwash use
Researchers recently made a troubling connection when crunching the data from the San Juan Overweight Adults Longitudinal Study (SOALS).
Forty three percent of the over 1,200 study volunteers used mouthwash a least once a day. And a full 22 percent of them gargled with it at least twice a day.
For an average of three years, the team continued to follow up with the participants. They were monitored along the way for the development of prediabetes or diabetes.
And when the scientists dove into the numbers, a stunning pattern emerged.
Volunteers who used mouthwash two or more times a day were 55 percent more likely to have developed prediabetes or full blown type 2 diabetes over the three year follow-up period.1
Researchers then factored in a variety of other issues that could have had an effect on the findings including income, education, oral hygiene, sleep disorders, diet, medications and even fasting blood glucose numbers. But the 55 percent jump in cases remained solid even after they made the adjustments.
Now before you panic keep in mind this was an observational study. That means it doesn’t definitively prove cause (mouthwash) and effect (diabetes). At this point, we can only say there’s a solid association between the two.
But at the same time, typically when you see smoke there’s a fire somewhere that needs putting out. So the findings shouldn’t be dismissed either.
Plus we have a good idea why this weird link might exist.
Mouthwash may kill off vital good bugs too
If you’ve been following our advice you swore off antibacterial soaps ages ago. We’ve been warning you about the dangers of these products for at least nine years now.
Well it turns out most mouthwashes contain antibacterial compounds as well. They’re designed to kill off the bacteria behind gingivitis and tooth decay.
But just like those other antibacterial products we told you to steer clear of, mouthwash ends up killing the good bugs that live in your mouth right along with the bad ones. And that can have some unexpected side effects.
Some of those bugs play a key role in the development of nitrous oxide. And nitrous oxide, of course, helps to regulate insulin and keep your blood sugar in check.
In other words, wiping out the good bugs with mouthwash could be sending your risk for diabetes climbing.
And that may not be the only side effect either. Earlier research has tied this same drop in oral-nitrate-producing bacteria to high blood pressure.2
The solution? The researchers say they didn’t spot a link between less frequent use of mouthwash and blood sugar issues. So some experts are recommending you switch to gargling once a day or even just a few times a week.
If you’re committed to using mouthwash, we suggest you switch to an alcohol-free product that doesn’t have any added antibacterial compounds. You’ll find a number to choose from online and in health food stores.
Or better yet, try one of our 7 weirdly effective natural ways to beat bad breath a try instead.
1. “Over-the-counter mouthwash use and risk of pre-diabetes/diabetes,” Nitric Oxide, Volume 71, 1 December 2017, Pages 14-20
2. “Physiological role for nitrate-reducing oral bacteria in blood pressure control,” Free Radic Biol Med. 2013 Feb;55:93-100
She is an advocate of self-education and is passionate about the power of group knowledge sharing, like the kind found right here on HealthierTalk.com. Alice loves to share her views on holistic and natural healing as well as her, sometimes contentious, thoughts on the profit-driven inner workings of traditional medicine.
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