Is It Safe to Rinse Your Mouth With Hydrogen Peroxide Everyday?

  • Medical Reviewer: Dany Paul Baby, MD
Reviewed on 5/10/2022

What are the benefits of rinsing your mouth with hydrogen peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide is a common household chemical used for cleaning minor cuts and burns as well as disinfecting surfaces. It's safe to use over-the-counter peroxide oral rinse, which has roughly 1.5% to 3% hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide is a common household chemical used for cleaning minor cuts and burns as well as disinfecting surfaces. It's safe to use over-the-counter peroxide oral rinse, which has roughly 1.5% to 3% hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide is a common household chemical used for cleaning minor cuts and burns as well as disinfecting surfaces. It's also sold in many drug stores as a mouthwash. If you're planning to buy one, you might be wondering — is hydrogen peroxide safe to put on your teeth?

When used too often and in high concentrations, hydrogen peroxide can cause damage to your oral cavity. This is why you should never rinse your mouth with food-grade hydrogen peroxide, which has a concentration of 35%. However, it's safe to use over-the-counter peroxide oral rinse, which has roughly 1.5% to 3% hydrogen peroxide.

To use hydrogen peroxide safely, use it for short periods at a concentration no stronger than 3%. 

Hydrogen peroxide has powerful antiseptic properties. If used in a controlled manner, it can benefit your oral care routine in many ways.

Treating gum diseases

Hydrogen peroxide can help in treating gum diseases due to its antibacterial nature. It can also help to reduce gum inflammation if you gargle with it after brushing and flossing your teeth.

A big advantage of peroxide oral rinse is that it can reach areas in the back of your mouth that your brush and floss can’t reach.

Teeth whitening

Most toothpaste and gels with teeth whitening properties either contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide — a combination of hydrogen peroxide and urea.

Using peroxide rinse once or twice daily can make your teeth look whiter. But the effect lasts only for a few hours. To produce a lasting effect, you need to use peroxide mouthwashes consistently over several months.

Easing sore throat

A common cause of sore throat is bacterial infections. Rinsing your mouth with hydrogen peroxide can help fight this infection and ease discomfort. A peroxide oral rinse can also help you get rid of the mucus build-up in your throat. When hydrogen peroxide comes in contact with the mucus, it creates a foaming effect. This foam loosens the mucus and makes it easier to drain.

How to use hydrogen peroxide safely?

Using peroxide rinse the wrong way can lead to unwanted side effects. The key to safely gargling with hydrogen peroxide is to follow all the guidelines provided by your mouthwash brand. If you have any doubts, ask a pharmacist or doctor before using it.  

In the case of some brands, you'd need to mix the peroxide solution with water before using it. For others, you may be able to use it directly. 

Where mixing is required, experts recommend gargling with half water and half 3% hydrogen peroxide for 1 minute, not more than four times a day. However, some brands may ask you to mix two parts water with one part peroxide. Always follow the exact directions given on the package. 

Most mouthwashes come with a special measuring cap. Use it to measure the hydrogen peroxide solution and make your final mix. 

Swish it all around your mouth for the recommended time and spit it out. Never swallow your peroxide rinse, no matter the concentration. Also, make sure to rinse thoroughly every time you use hydrogen peroxide. 

Mouthwash at the same time every day to get the most benefit. But limit its use to a few times a week to avoid irritating your gums. Negative reactions like chemical burns can occur to your oral cavity if you gargle with 3% hydrogen peroxide for more than 2 minutes.

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Are there any risks of using hydrogen peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide can cause damage to the oral cavity when used in high concentrations or for a long time. However, it can also harm other organs if used the wrong way. For example, if you swallow a concentrated peroxide solution — 10% or more — it can cause serious injury to your stomach. 

While swallowing a small amount of 3% hydrogen peroxide won’t cause any serious issues, it can still lead to vomiting and stomach upset. Your lungs can get irritated if you accidentally inhale it while making your mouthwash mix. If the chemical gets splashed back on your face, it can also irritate your eyes. 

Other problems that can arise from using too much hydrogen peroxide are:

  • Tooth loss
  • Dental cavities
  • Irritated or inflamed gums
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Higher risk of oral cancer
  • Pulpitis — painful inflammation of the tooth pulp
  • Black hairy tongue (BHT) — a condition in which the tongue appears furry and dark

What should you check while buying hydrogen peroxide?

You need to check two things in a hydrogen peroxide product — its grade and concentration. Food-grade hydrogen peroxide has a 35% concentration, while industrial-grade hydrogen peroxide can have a concentration of 50% or more. Store-bought peroxide mouthwashes are diluted to 3% or less. This concentration has no major side effects, and it's best suited for oral care.

For some brands, the concentration is shown in parts per million (ppm). Make sure to ask about its concentration in percentage before buying the product. 

If you buy a mouthwash with carbamide peroxide, know that it'll expire earlier than that with hydrogen peroxide. But, refrigeration may increase the shelf-life of your carbamide peroxide mouthwash.

Do you need to take any precautions?

If you're allergic to hydrogen peroxide, tell your doctor or pharmacist before buying it. It's rare to have serious allergic reactions. But your peroxide solution can have inactive ingredients that can cause symptoms like:

Visit your doctor at once if you notice any of these symptoms.

It's unlikely for the peroxide solution to pass into breast milk. Still, ask your doctor how to use hydrogen peroxide safely if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding

Is peroxide oral rinse worth it?

Whether it’s worth buying a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash depends on how you use it. It might not make a big difference if your aim is to control the growth of plaque.

You might also not get satisfactory results if you use it for teeth whitening. But if you plan to use it as part of your normal oral care routine along with brushing and flossing, it might help prevent gum disease

Due to its various health risks, most dentists don’t recommend using hydrogen peroxide frequently. But you can use it sometimes in low concentrations to remove stains from the teeth or control gum-related problems. 

In case you’ve any questions or concerns regarding the safe use of hydrogen peroxide, it’s best to talk to a dental professional and get expert advice. 

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References
SOURCES:

ADA: "Whitening."

Case Reports in Dentistry: "Oral Adverse Reactions Caused by Over-the-Counter Oral Agents."

International Journal of Dental Hygiene: "The effects of hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes on the prevention of plaque and gingival inflammation: a systematic review."

Journal of Applied Oral Science: "Inflammatory response of human dental pulp to at-home and in-office tooth bleaching."

Journal of Periodontology: "Hydrogen Peroxide: A Review of Its Use in Dentistry."

National Capital Poison Center: "Hydrogen Peroxide."

Nature: "Adjunctive antimicrobial chemotherapy based on hydrogen peroxide photolysis for non-surgical treatment of moderate to severe periodontitis: a randomized controlled trial."

Nursing Research: "The effects of hydrogen peroxide rinses on the normal oral mucosa."

The Scientific World Journal: "Efficacy of Mouthwashes Containing Hydrogen Peroxide on Tooth Whitening."

World Journal of Gastroenterology: "Black hairy tongue syndrome."

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