If you’ve just had oral surgery or your mouth is riddled with sores, you better think twice about rinsing with your usual mouthwash. Firstly, it’ll hurt like hell. Secondly and more importantly, most formulas contain alcohol which can cause or exacerbate soreness. But that doesn’t mean you should skip mouthwash entirely — a hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse is what you need!
“Hydrogen peroxide” sure sounds chemical-ly and scary, so I’m sure you’re wondering “Is it safe to gargle with hydrogen peroxide? “ and “Can you use hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash?”. Keep reading to find out exactly what a hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse is and why I advise my patients to keep one on hand in case of a sore throat or if they accidentally bite their lip!
What is hydrogen peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide is a staple in many medicine cabinets and first aid kits due to its ability to kill living cells such as bacteria. Its antiseptic properties make it ideal for cleaning minor cuts and preventing infection, and you can easily buy it at most drug stores. Because of this, the solution also works wonders as a mouthwash!
Hydrogen peroxide mouthwash benefits/side effects
However, not every hydrogen peroxide solution is safe to use on your skin, let alone your mouth, as they are available in various strengths and concentrations. If you have a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution lying around, the recommended at-home dilution is half water and half 3% hydrogen peroxide.
But you really don’t need to do that as you can easily find hydrogen peroxide oral rinse over-the-counter that are typically between 1.5% to 3%, and you can use them immediately without dilution. These will also leave you with minty fresh breath!
One of the serious side effects to note is that when used in too high concentrations too frequently, you may experience white spots in the mouth after rinsing with hydrogen peroxide. So I must stress: Only use hydrogen peroxide concentrations of 3% or lower and only rinse occasionally with a peroxide mouthwash/mouth rinse when you have sores or bruises in your mouth!
Now that’s out of the way, let’s look at the benefits of rinsing with a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash:
The painless way to keep the mouth bacteria-free, especially if you have open wounds or gum disease
The FDA authorizes hydrogen peroxide as a temporary solution for those recovering from oral surgery. It can break through biofilm to destroy bacterial cell walls while producing oxygen, creating an unfavorable environment for anaerobic bacteria to survive.
Open bruises are a favorite hangout spot for bacteria. So especially post-surgery, or if you’re dealing with oral health problems like canker sores or gum disease, using a hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse can help to keep infection at bay and encourage healing. These antiseptic qualities also make hydrogen peroxide a potential treatment for gum disease!
It helps with sore throats
As bacteria cause a sore throat, I often recommend gargling/rinsing with (hydrogen) peroxide to my patients if/when they have a sore throat as it helps to reduce the bacterial load causing the infection. By lessening the amount of bacteria, the infection may clear up after some time. It can also help to reduce mucus build-up in the throat as the foam it creates is capable of breaking down mucus, making it easier to drain.
Does hydrogen peroxide mouthwash whiten teeth? The answer is yes! Products containing peroxides, such as hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide, are commonly used as bleaching agents. You can find these two ingredients in many types of toothpaste and mouthwash.
Swishing with a peroxide mouth rinse once or twice a day can make your teeth look whiter as it penetrates layers of the teeth to remove discoloration. However, please note that consistent use with high concentrations can cause adverse oral effects such as increased sensitivity and gum inflammation. This is particularly the case if you’re already experiencing sensitivities, so ask your dental professional to provide dental advice before trying out peroxide oral products.
Soothes mouth sores and other irritation
Since it is an antiseptic, hydrogen peroxide is also useful in treating minor mouth irritations. So if you are someone who is prone to sores or other mouth injuries, keeping a peroxide mouth rinse on hand is handy to help it clear up much quicker and prevent flare-ups. Gargling with it won’t cause your sores to sting, unlike a regular mouthwash, but it will help manage bacteria.
A mouthwash containing hydrogen peroxide is always good to have in your bathroom cabinet so that you will never be tempted to neglect oral hygiene if you are experiencing problems in the mouth. Thanks to its soothing properties, it can help with something as simple as accidentally biting your tongue or lip. And most of all, its antiseptic effects greatly reduce bacteria in the mouth.
Always opt for a hydrogen peroxide mouth rinse between 1.5% to 3% and avoid anything more to achieve desired results with minimal side effects. Moreover, limit its use to twice or thrice per week to prevent chemical burns, which can result in gum inflammation or weakened enamel.