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The Benefits of Nitric Oxide – and the Role Your Mouth Plays in Delivering Them

The Benefits of Nitric Oxide – and the Role Your Mouth Plays in Delivering Them

The Benefits of Nitric Oxide – and the Role Your Mouth Plays in Delivering Them

Hear a dentist talk about nitric oxide, you might think, “Oh, cool – laughing gas.” But that’s actually nitrous oxide, which has long been used to help patients relax during dental procedures.

And unlike nitrous, nitric oxide has some very real health benefits, including

  • Reduced inflammation.
  • Better cardiovascular health.
  • Better sleep.
  • More energy.
  • Enhanced strength and endurance.
  • Improved memory.
  • Improved immune function.
  • Improved insulin signalling.
  • Proper erectile function.

Your mouth plays a key role in bringing such benefits to life.

So Just What Is Nitric Oxide, Anyway?

Nitric oxide is a molecule made up of two atoms: one nitrogen, one oxygen. So it’s referred to as NO for short.

Nearly every cell in your body generates the stuff. That’s a very good thing indeed, as it plays a big role in many of your body’s everyday activities. One of the most important is vasodilation, which means keeping your blood vessels open and relaxed so blood can flow freely, delivering oxygen and other nutrients to your cells.

How Does the Body Make Nitric Oxide?

Your body makes NO in a couple of ways. One is the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) pathway. NOS is an enzyme found in the cells that line your blood vessels, and it converts an amino acid called L-arginine into NO. But as you get older, this enzyme loses some of its power – especially if you smoke, eat poorly, or don’t get much physical activity into your days.

But at any age, your body also has the ability to convert natural inorganic nitrate from food into nitric oxide. The process starts as soon as you begin chewing nitrate-rich foods such as dark, leafy greens (kale, chard, arugula, spinach, etc.), as well as vegetables such as beets and celery. (You’ll find a good sample list of vegetables classified by nitrate content here.)

For that conversation to happen, though, specific oral bacteria need to be present to do the job. Your oral microbiome – the whole community of microbes that live in your mouth, helpful and harmful alike – must be in balance. Good nutrition and good oral hygiene play a role in this. Your dentist may also recommend you take oral probiotics or use a probiotic toothpaste, as well.

By supporting the production of nitric oxide, this is one of the ways your oral microbiome plays a crucial role in supporting whole body health.

What Else Can I Do to Get More Nitric Oxide in My Life?

In addition to eating plenty of nitrate-rich foods, “eat the rainbow,” as they say. The bright colors of produce are largely a result of flavonoids, and these compounds have been shown to protect nitric oxide from free radical damage.

It’s also best to avoid a diet that’s too high in fat or simple carbs, as these can inhibit NO production.

Physical activity is also helpful. As you exercise and your heart begins to pound, your arteries release NO into the blood, widening your vessels so more blood can pass through, delivering needed oxygen to your muscles.

You might also consider taking a nitric oxide supplement. In fact, this can be a good idea even if you eat healthfully. Industrial agriculture has depleted our soils, and depleted soils mean less nutritious food growing from them. This has increased the need for all kinds of supplementation, NO included.

However, there’s one point we can’t stress enough: If the oral microbiome isn’t healthy, diet and supplements aren’t apt to help much. Taking good care of your oral health – through diet, oral hygiene, regular dental visits, and the rest – is critical for generating the NO your body needs to truly thrive.

But Be Warned: Mouthwash Can Throw a Wrench in the Works

Listerine and other common mouthwashes are powerful against oral pathogens. But like broad-spectrum antibiotics, they’re indiscriminate: They kill plenty of good bacteria, as well as the harmful kinds. An imbalanced microbiome means no reduced nitric oxide production.

Research has shown that this can translate into symptoms like higher blood pressure – a direct effect of reduced nitric oxide.

Fortunately, these mouthwashes aren’t necessary for a healthy mouth. Rinsing with plain water or salt water is fine. Oil pulling can also be extremely helpful for keeping your mouth clean while maintaining a healthy microbial balance.

How Can The Holistic Dental Center of NJ Assist With Your Oral Health?

At the Holistic Dental Center, we want our patients to live long, healthy lives, free of toxins in their mouths and entire body. Our practice is entirely mercury-free and metal-free. We focus on oral health nutrition and hygiene, reducing bacteria and the healthiest materials for your mouth and general health. If you are looking to revive well-being and oral health through biological dentistry, give us a call.

Ready To Take Control Of Your Health?

If you’re due (or past due) for an oral health assessment, or if you have questions about your oral health or integrative holistic dentistry, Holistic Dental Center New Jersey can help. Give us a call at (973) 718-5104 or contact us online for more information.