Gargling with hydrogen peroxide has its own benefits to your oral health. It can help get rid of canker sores, whiten teeth, get rid of bad breath and treat sore throat. But is it safe to gargle with hydrogen peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide is known to have antimicrobial activity and many benefits are advanced to gargling with hydrogen peroxide. From combating bad breath to teeth whitening and treatment of tooth and throat infections (sore throats), the list is huge. In this article we’ll give you an insight into some of the common benefits and uses of hydrogen peroxide.
Is It Safe To Gargle With Hydrogen Peroxide?
A perfect smile, packaged in pearl white teeth and good breath is desirable. After all, it is one of the first things that people notice about you. In pursuit of that perfect smile, lots of people often turn to gargling with hydrogen peroxide. But is it it OK to gargle with hydrogen peroxide?
Well, it is largely safe to gargle with hydrogen peroxide provided that the concentration of the hydrogen peroxide doesn’t exceed 3%.
This is because hydrogen peroxide with higher than 3% concentration may result in irritation and blistering in the mouth and throat.Used in very high concentration, hydrogen peroxide can also trigger tooth sensitivity and even “blanche” your gums as Dr. Kasarsky, a NY based cosmetic dentist says.
Hydrogen peroxide is usually sold over-the-counter in drugstores as aqueous solutions (mixed with water) of between 3% and 6% concentration and it is up to you to ensure that you dilute it accordingly.
It is also a good idea to avoid swallowing hydrogen peroxide while gargling as this can cause various health problems including nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. In large enough quantities, hydrogen peroxide may even be fatal.
Hydrogen peroxide should also be used over a short period of time since overuse of the peroxide may actually damage cells and soften tooth surfaces.
Benefits of Gargling Hydrogen Peroxide
The FDA has also approved the use of 3% hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash. Gargling hydrogen peroxide is also increasingly advocated for by alternative medicine practitioners.
The argument draws upon two precepts: the body produces hydrogen peroxide naturally as a way to fight of infection and that the oxygen-rich environment created by hydrogen peroxide is unsuitable for survival of most human pathogens (since most of them are anaerobic). Oral intake and injection of hydrogen peroxide is however widely advised against.
Among the benefits of gargling hydrogen peroxide are:
1. Teeth whitening and treatment of tooth infections
Teeth get discolored for reasons such as poor oral hygiene, smoking, excessive drinking of caffeinated beverages. Hydrogen peroxide makes for a cheap remedy for teeth whitening.
In fact, teeth whitening is the main dentistry use of hydrogen peroxide today as Jeanne Bosecker, a Registered Dental Hygienist based in Chicago says.
As study conducted by Sao Paulo State University found that gargling hydrogen peroxide mouthwash two times a day over a period of 3 months may help to whiten the teeth. That explains why hydrogen peroxide is one of the key ingredients in most tooth-whitening products.
In addition to helping to whiten teeth, gargling with hydrogen peroxide has also been used effectively for treatment of dental conditions such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
It also helps to use hydrogen peroxide to rinse your toothbrush. Just be sure to use freshly poured H2O2 since hydrogen peroxide loses its strength when exposed to light and heat.
2. Fighting bad breath
Medically known as halitosis, bad breath is an embarrassing health condition that is attributed to factors such as dry mouth, sore throat, tonsillitis, and gum disease.
Used as a mouthwash – which is by the way one of the most common food grade hydrogen peroxide uses – hydrogen peroxide helps to reduce the bacteria and viruses in your mouth which may in turn help to combat bad breath.
Gargling with hydrogen peroxide however gives a weird taste that may be intolerable for some people. Some foaming is also to be expected as the peroxide work.
Here is an effective procedure you may want to use to fight bad breath:
- Brush your teeth as you normally do.
- Next, floss between your teeth to get rid of any gunk trapped in there. This ensures more effective H2O2
- Swish and gargle with food grade hydrogen peroxide solution and then spit it out
- Repeat for about 3 minutes
It is especially important that you brush your teeth and then gargle with hydrogen peroxide before you retire to bed. This is because oral bacteria are most active at night when they vigorously act on the food debris trapped in between your teeth.
3. Canker sores treatment
Sometimes referred to as aphthous ulcers or mouth ulcers, canker sores have a characteristic yellow or grayish-white centers and well defined red border.
They occur inside and around the mouth – on the tongue, on the inside of the lips, in the throat, on the cheeks etc. – and can make it difficult to eat and drink.
Among the underlying factors for canker sores in mouth are compromised immune system, physical trauma, vitamin deficiencies, stress, and poor diet.
The antibacterial and antiseptic properties of hydrogen peroxide comes handy in treatment of canker sores. Using hydrogen peroxide for canker sores treatment is as easy as rinsing your mouth with it twice daily until the sores clear.
The most important thing is to remember to use H2O2 in appropriate concentration as explained in a previous section.
4. Treatment of sore throat
Common cold and flu are the most common causes of sore throat, but it may also be caused by acid reflux – backflow of gastric juices into the esophagus. Sinus drainage can also trigger throat infections that culminate in sore throat.
Sore throat may also be accompanied by tonsillitis. Some people have reported positive results in as far as gargling with hydrogen peroxide for sore throat relief is concerned.
In addition to homemade H2O2 preparations, you may also get one of the many some over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide mouthwash preparations that typically contain a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, water, and Listerine.
If you don’t like the taste that such mouthwashes leave behind, you may find gargling with salty water after you finish gargling with the mouthwash helpful. Simply mix warm water with a pinch of salt and then gargle with the solution for 5 to 10 minutes.
There is then this common question, should pregnant women use Hydrogen peroxide? Well, it is safe to gargle with hydrogen peroxide while pregnant, of course provided that you dilute it to safe levels, and avoid swallowing it.
How to Gargle With Hydrogen Peroxide
Using hydrogen peroxide as a mouth wash is as easy as gargling 1% to 3% hydrogen peroxide and then spitting out the peroxide. Repeat the process for about 3 minutes for best results. Some experts recommend diluting 3% hydrogen peroxide with equal volume of water (to get 1.5% H2O2) before using it.
Cons of Gargling With Hydrogen Peroxide
The major concern with using hydrogen peroxide to rinse the mouth is its unpleasant taste that some people find intolerable. Rinsing the mouth thoroughly with water after gargling the peroxide may help overcome this. You may also benefit from masking the flavor of the peroxide with mint.
Hydrogen peroxide may have harmful effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and even death if swallowed in large quantities. Using adequately diluted peroxide solutions and making deliberate effort to avoid swallowing it as you gargle will help you address this.
Of course you might still end up swallowing a small amount of it but that shouldn’t be a problem.
When Gargling With Hydrogen Peroxide:
Hydrogen peroxide degrades fast and lose its effectiveness when exposed to light and heat. This is why it is sold in dark bottles. Therefore, use freshly poured hydrogen peroxide.
- Make deliberate effort to ensure minimal ingestion of hydrogen peroxide.
- Safe use of hydrogen peroxide hinges on getting the right concentration
- Prolonged use of hydrogen peroxide gargles may be harmful to your teeth.