When you come in for teeth whitening, you probably notice how careful we are to make sure we don’t get any of the active solution on your gums, or if we’re giving you a take-home whitening system, we’ll mention that you should try not to get it on your gums. If you know that the active ingredient in teeth whitening is peroxide, you may wonder whether it’s safe to use a peroxide-based mouthwash when it will wash all over your gums.
Low-concentration hydrogen peroxide rinses are safe to use for at-home care.
Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe To Use as Mouthwash?
When it comes to many things, it’s the dose that matters, not just the composition. At high levels, cyanide is a deadly poison. At low levels, it gives California almonds their delicious flavor. That’s the way it is with peroxide. The concentrated whiteners that dentists use contain 25%, 35%, or more of carbamide peroxide, which quickly changes into hydrogen peroxide. At these high levels, peroxide is likely to irritate your gum tissue, causing redness and discomfort.
On the other hand, the hydrogen peroxide that you buy in bottles at the store has a concentration of 3%. To use it as a mouthwash, mix it half-and-half with water, and you end up with a relatively low concentration mouthwash.
One study found that quarter strength peroxide reduced oral bacteria but half-strength peroxide did not. With that said, a weaker peroxide solution might be more beneficial for your oral health.
What Hydrogen Peroxide as Mouthwash Can Do
So why should you use hydrogen peroxide as an oral rinse? It can offer a number of benefits for your oral health.
One of the first ways hydrogen peroxide mouthwash will benefit your oral health is by helping you control gum disease due to its antibacterial properties. When plaque forms on your teeth, it contains a slimy bacteria film known as a biofilm. Hydrogen peroxide releases oxygen when you swish it in your mouth and the oxygen destroys the bacteria.
A study from 2017 divided 53 participants into separate groups to test if hydrogen peroxide was effective for treating gum disease. One group received a deep cleaning and hydrogen peroxide while the other only received a deep cleaning. The group that received the hydrogen peroxide had fewer signs of gum disease than those who only received the deep cleaning.
One of the biggest advantages of gargling hydrogen peroxide is that it can reach the hard-to-reach areas in the back of your mouth.
If you’re prone to canker sores, swishing hydrogen peroxide oral rinse can help bring you relief. The hydrogen peroxide will help kill bacteria, clean the area, and remove dead cells. As a result, it can help your canker sore or minor cut in your mouth heal faster.
The last way hydrogen peroxide can benefit your oral health is by helping sore throats. One of the causes of sore throats is a bacterial infection. Gargling hydrogen peroxide can help ease discomfort caused by the bacteria and also help clear the infection.
Whiten Your Teeth
Hydrogen peroxide might also help whiten your teeth. Most toothpaste or mouthwashes that claim to whiten your teeth already contain hydrogen peroxide. One study found that swishing hydrogen peroxide was effective for whitening teeth but not as effective as using a 10% carbamide peroxide gel.
Side Effects of Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash
Before you rush to the store to purchase hydrogen peroxide to use as a mouthwash, it’s important to understand the possible side effects. Although this isn’t a side effect, you will soon learn that hydrogen peroxide does not taste great. It can also sting your mouth and those effects can last for several hours in some cases. Peroxide can also dry out the mouth which is counterproductive for your oral health. Saliva is important for washing away oral bacteria and remineralizing the tooth enamel.
The last side effect is from accidentally swallowing it. If you happen to swallow your hydrogen peroxide oral rinse, you may experience nausea or stomach irritation.
Is Hydrogen Peroxide Oral Rinse Worth It?
So now the next question is whether hydrogen peroxide mouthwash is actually worth it. A 2011 review of research about hydrogen peroxide mouthwash gave mixed results. As a rinse to combat the growth of plaque by itself, hydrogen peroxide was kind of a bust–it made little difference.
However, if you are using hydrogen peroxide mouthwash as part of your normal oral hygiene routine (brushing and flossing), it can help reduce gingivitis, the mild form of gum disease.
If you are hoping for whitening effects, it seems that most people don’t get satisfactory whitening with this type of mouthwash.