Can you use hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash for your oral health? The answer is yes. But you need to note that you cannot use it too often and only after it is heavily diluted. And be warned – do not swallow it.
Whether you consider hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse because you are tired of spending money on big brand names, or you want to freshen breath, soothe sores, or whiten your teeth – it can be considered a medical cabinet staple.
There are a few common questions you might have. Can you gargle with hydrogen peroxide? What could be the risks of using hydrogen peroxide as mouthwash? Can you use hydrogen peroxide for mouth sores or other oral diseases? You can also check with your dentist before you think about using hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash.
One note before you think about hydrogen peroxide (HP) for use in mouth rinses. This HP solution refers to a solution with a concentration of more than 3%, and even then, you should always dilute it further with water before use.
What is Hydrogen Peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent that has antiviral, disinfectant, and antibacterial properties. It also has a mild antiseptic property and has various household uses, including cleaning countertops and preventing infection in minor burns and cuts. Primarily because it can kill germs.
Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound consisting of hydrogen with oxygen. You can easily buy it at most drug stores and use it for everything from cleaning your bathtubs to disinfecting wounds. Hydrogen peroxide production is not an issue and is easily available.
Some people even swear by gargling with it to whiten teeth, soothe a sore throat, and reduce gum inflammation. You can safely gargle with hydrogen peroxide, and it really works.
In diluted solutions should be safe to use but may burn your skin and should never be swallowed.
Many recommend to use hydrogen peroxide to clean your kitchen sinks. First use baking soda to clean it and then lastly rinse it with hydrogen peroxide for better results. Hydrogen peroxide mixed with sodium is known as oxygen bleach which releases extra oxygen when water is added. It helps clean mold and mildew stains on any surface including cutting boards.
Health Benefits of Gargling With Hydrogen Peroxide
There are several benefits of a mouth rinse made with hydrogen peroxide for dental health like:
1 Treating gum disease
Because of the antibacterial properties of hydrogen peroxide, it helps treat gum disease and improves your oral health. A study found that hydrogen peroxide made participants’ gums healthier and reduced amounts of the periodontal pathogen responsible for causing gingivitis.
Plaque on teeth found in your mouth is a slimy film of bacteria called a biofilm. HP releases oxygen that helps destroy these bacteria. According to a 2017 study, people who used HP had significantly fewer signs of gum disease than the other group.
One most significant advantage of gargling with HP solution is that it can reach the mouth’s back and spots that may be hard to reach with your brush and dental floss.
2 Soothing sore throats
HP’s antibacterial properties can help your body fight off infections that cause sore throats. It also helps to loosen the hardened or thick mucus in your throat. This loosening helps the mucus to drain better, relieving irritation and pain.
In addition, when the mucus in your mouth comes into contact with HP it creates a foam. This foam makes the mucus less sticky thus draining it out.
Especially for young children and adults who have a hard time gargling without swallowing – there are many other alternatives. They can try gargling with warm salt water instead for similar benefits.
For salt water gargling, mix one cup of water with a tablespoon of salt. Swish this saltwater mixture around in your mouth for about 60 seconds. Then spit the solution out after gargling.
3 Whitening teeth
Hydrogen peroxide is a type of bleaching agent and is extensively used for whitening teeth. In fact, many of your mouthwash and toothpaste in stores already contain this compound.
In one study, researchers investigated whether hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes could whiten teeth more effectively. The study results indicated that over time, hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes can significantly increase the whiteness of your teeth.
In fact, hydrogen peroxide is the main active ingredient found in most of the over-the-counter and professional tooth whitening products used by dentists. As a home remedy gargling with HP might make your teeth look whiter for a while. However, a 2015 study found that HP mouthwashes need to be used consistently over a period to produce a lasting effect.
4 Healing canker sores
As you know, HP is antiseptic, which can help to heal cuts and canker sores. When you apply it to a cut or sore, the HP foams, and releases oxygen. This process helps to clean the area and reduce bacteria.
5 Reducing the spread of COVID
HP can help to reduce the spread of Covid from patients to dentists. Ongoing studies have determined the efficacy of HP as it extensively limits your dentists’ exposure to COVID from their patients.
Risks of Using Hydrogen Peroxide Mouth Rinse
- Very harmful when ingested: Intake or swallowing too much of the HP solution can cause serious side effects. It can also burn your digestive tract, cause nausea, and vomiting.
- Weakened enamel: Hydrogen peroxide is very dangerous and can damage your tooth enamel if used too often, for too long, or in too high concentrations.
What are Dentists Saying?
It is interesting to know that all dentists do not agree about the safety of peroxide. Some dentists say that 1% hydrogen peroxide solutions are excellent antibacterial agents, but they should not be used too often or for too long.
The reason being the substance can penetrate your enamel, dentin, and collagen-rich tissue located within the dentin, damaging it as a result. Dentists also do not recommend HP rinses as a whitening solution. This is because to obtain noticeable teeth whitening results using HP-based mouth rinses, you might need high concentrations which could be harmful for your oral mucosa.
Higher concentrations are safe to use for professional dental use because your gums are protected with hardening resins or a liquid rubber dam. Your dentist would know the right concentration of the solution to use.
Few dentists agree that a peroxide mouthwash can indeed reduce bacterial growth. But they are more generous in promoting it as a method to whiten your teeth – but only used with utmost care and precaution.
Another dentist is of the opinion that peroxide lowers your level of bacteria in the mouth for a short period. This is the primary reason – during the COVID pandemic, few dentists asked their patients to gargle with a hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse prior to going in for dental treatment.
How to Safely Gargle With Hydrogen Peroxide?
Before gargling with peroxide, your dentist will advise you to mix water with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution to obtain a 1% solution. It is believed that at that concentration – peroxide is no longer carcinogenic.
It will make your mouth feel better, use HP as a mouth rinse; however, you need to know that it does not clean your teeth as brushing does. Your dentist will not recommend peroxide for bleaching your teeth or to deal with sore teeth, tooth decay or gums. You need to be extra careful as using it too much can turn your tongue black.
According to another dentist, using peroxide with regular brushing and flossing can reduce gum inflammation. It is helpful in whitening your teeth, but using it every day can negatively impact your oral health. In fact, they recommend limiting the use of HP to just a few times per month.
Most of the dentists are of the opinion that you could use HP mouth rinses:
- But HP is not recommended for teeth whitening.
- You should not be using it as a mouth rinse in concentrations of more than 3%.
- You should NEVER swallow hydrogen peroxide.
- It reduces levels of bacteria in your mouth.
- It can temporarily help with gum inflammation and gingivitis.
- HP can help soothe your sore throat.
How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide as a Mouthwash?
So how should you use hydrogen peroxide for mouthwash for better oral hygiene?
The key to safely gargling using hydrogen peroxide is to make sure you never swallow it. This holds good whether you’re using 3 percent hydrogen peroxide or 35% “food grade” hydrogen peroxide.
- Take one part 3% peroxide solution with two parts water. This is the strength you will easily find in a brown bottle at most drug stores. But if you buy a 1% solution, you do not need to dilute it.
- Do not use HP every day, except for short periods of time. And only use it if you have inflamed gums or a sore throat.
- Tilt your head back and take a small mouthful of the solution. Make sure you do not swallow it. Gargle and swish the mixture around in your mouth for 30- 60 seconds. You can use a timer while gargling.
- Spit the solution out after gargling. Do not try to gargle the mixture for more than 90 seconds as it might be harmful.
As you have seen, peroxide has several benefits. And you have also seen how HP can have different dental usages. It is very effective and you can use peroxide to kill bacteria to help soothe sore throats and infections.
Gargling hydrogen peroxide is indeed an effective way to solve many oral problems such as disinfect your mouth, soothe your sore throat, and whiten your teeth. Just make sure you dilute the solution first, and try not to swallow any in the process. If you desire to whiten your teeth, try to gargle consistently for a few months for best results.