Sometimes mouthwash is the extra boost you need for fresh breath. However, a recent study conducted by researchers and experts at the Center for Clinical Research and Health Promotion at the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology, the School of Dental Medicine at University of Puerto Rico, and the Department of Pathology and Center for Free Radical Biology at the University of Alabama, discovered that people participating in the study who use mouthwash at least two times a day had a 55% higher risk of developing prediabetes or diabetes. This was over a three-year follow-up period compared with those who used it less frequently. Of the people who used mouthwash at least twice a day, 30% developed either prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
Although there needs to be more research to definitively cement the connection between mouthwash and diabetes, the study did conclude that frequent and regular use of over-the-counter antiseptic mouthwashes were associated with increased risk of developing pre-diabetes and diabetes in the population that was studied. The population that was studied had no signs of diabetes but were all at higher risk for developing pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes.
General drugstore-bought mouthwash typically contains compounds that destroy both good and bad types of oral bacteria. Bad oral bacteria leads to a buildup of plaque and a case of bad breath. Some of the good bacteria that live in our oral cavities produce nitric oxide, which is a chemical that helps to prevent diabetes. Nitric oxide plays a crucial role in regulating insulin levels in the body, which has a considerable effect on energy level and metabolic rates in the body. When you destroy the good bacteria by using mouthwash twice a day or more, it changes the oral flora, which causes a chain reaction by altering the metabolism of blood sugar in our bodies. In turn, this can potentially lead to prediabetes or type 2 diabetes.
Since this data is preliminary, and there hasn’t been a distinct cause and effect relationship established yet, it shouldn’t be taken at face value. Nevertheless, it might be a healthy idea to limit mouthwash use to once a day, especially if you are overweight or have a strong family history of diabetes. Also, check the ingredients in your generic mouthwash and consider disposing it if it is an antiseptic solution. There are also alternatives to mouthwash that could prove to be helpful in the long run!
Mouthwash is a great solution for making your mouth stay fresh over the short-term, but in the long-term, it might not be that effective or safe. Since your oral health is intertwined with your overall health, you want to prioritize the care you put into understanding the latest studies on all things dental health!