But still don't rush or change your habits, says cardiologist Dr. Martha Gulati. She heads the cardiology department at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and is a spokeswoman for the American College of Cardiology.
"It was a small study, 15 men, eight women," Gulati said. "While they saw that blood pressure did not drop when using antibacterial rinsing in the same way as people who received placebo, the question is why? And we don't know."
And it certainly doesn't. "t means that if you used mouthwashing after exercise, you would blow out all the heart-healthy benefits, Gulati emphasized, adding that lowering blood pressure was just one benefit of exercise.
" the good blood flow and all the other heart benefits we get from exercise are somehow not magically blocked by those wonderful bacteria that we would like to get rid of by mouthwashing, "she said.
Science has long known that invasion of bad bacteria into the mouth can affect the heart. Called gingivitis, it is an inflammation caused by plaque build-up or bacteria that can lead to redness and swollen gums that can bleed easily when brushing your teeth. Not only bad bacteria can cause tooth decay, pain and bad breath, but it is associated with Alzheimer's disease and increases the risk of heart attack by nearly 50%. However, how this happens is not clear at all.
"We think it's from inflammation," says Gulati. "Inflammation seems to be a common pathway for atherosclerosis and plaque rupture, which ultimately causes heart attacks and strokes."
But the mouth contains billions of bacteria at any one time and not all of them are harmful. This study is designed to look at the types of bacteria that use nitrates and convert it to nitric oxide, which, when ingested, helps maintain the dilation of blood vessels, leading to the continued effect of blood pressure exercises.
Published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine, the study asked participants to fast overnight and then run the track the next day for 30 minutes on two separate occasions. One, 30, 60 and 90 minutes after each administration, they were asked to wash their mouth with either mint-flavored placebo or antibacterial mouthwash. Blood and saliva samples were collected and blood pressure was measured. The whole process took about five hours at each visit.
"The main finding was that the blood supply to the leg muscles and the reaction to lower blood pressure during exercise were significantly impaired when oral bacteria were unable to use nitrates and produced nitrite," says lead author Dr. Raul Beskos. Professor of Dietetics and Physiology at the University of Plymouth, UK
In fact, the use of antibacterial mouthwash reduced the effect of blood pressure lowering exercises by more than 60% in the first hour after training.
"This is the first evidence to show that oral bacteria play a key role in the cardiovascular response associated with exercise during the first recovery period," Beskos said.
The results seem to suggest that synthesis of nitrates from bacteria in the mouth may be an initial start to how our bodies respond to exercise, but it is too early to say for sure.
"We now want to do large studies in clinical populations to go deeper into the main findings of this study," Beskos said. "These studies can help us better understand how exercise triggers cardiovascular health and apply this knowledge to improving treatment for hypertension and cardiovascular disease."
In other words, watch out, more is ahead. In the meantime, says Beskos, visit the dental department, especially if you are at high cardiovascular risk, which includes people with obesity, diabetes and hypertension.
In addition, he says that you should consider avoiding "antibacterial mouthwashing unless it is prescribed medically for the treatment of some oral condition."