Does Your Mouthwash Interfere With Benefits Of Exercise?

One of the first recorded instances of washing a person's mouth out with soap is in a story entitled "Scaramouches at School" (it's not about The Mooch!), published in an 1860s periodical. As recently as the 1940s, it was a common hazing ritual in the British Royal Navy. In 1996, the American Academy of Pediatrics classified it as an alternative to spanking.

It's a bad idea in so many ways (soap ingredients can make you sick, and it's abusive), and now we know about one more serious drawback: It turns out that killing off bacteria in your oral biome can actually interfere with the positive effects of cardiovascular exercise.

A study of 23 adults published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine found that one hour after exercise, folks who had used an antibacterial mouthwash earlier saw less cardio benefits than those who rinsed with water. Seems post-exercise reduction in systolic blood pressure (that's a standard reaction) was around two and a half times less when participants used the mouthwash than when folks did not!

Why does the antibacterial rinse make a difference? Because it interferes with the body's post-exercise production of blood-vessel dilating nitric oxide - a process that depends on certain bacteria being alive and well in the mouth and saliva.

If you're concerned with bad breath, make sure you're flossing daily, brushing twice a day or more, seeing a dentist every six to 12 months, and don't smoke! That's what it takes to have decay-free teeth, good breath and promote bodywide health!

© 2019 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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