What exactly is Hydrogen Peroxide (H202)?
Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2) is actually a pale bluish liquid but appears colorless when diluted in aqueous form. More powerful than that of chlorine, hydrogen peroxide (H202) has strong oxidizing properties due to an increased oxidation potential and hence has found many applications in everyday life ranging from bleaches to antiseptics and even rocket fuel to military ordnance.
So how exactly does it work in my mouth?
Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) eliminates bacteria through its oxidation damage. Oxidation of cells yields free-radicals which can initiate a chain-reaction ultimately leading to destabilization of the molecular structure leading to cellular damage. Often bacterial cells lack the necessary reparative mechanisms and die.
The fizzy effect it produces is merely the reaction it undergoes, breaking down to form oxygen and water. You literally feel the mouthwash working in you as it is being used.
Wait, hydrogen peroxide is used in rocket fuel ?
Yes, but only 90% grade hydrogen peroxide (H202) is used in such a wild application. Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) mouthwash at its highest should only contain diluted hydrogen peroxide (H202) to 3% grade.
So that means hydrogen peroxide (H202) can be safely used as a mouthwash?
It has a long proven time tested thing that hydrogen peroxide (H202) can be safely used as a mouthwash, provided the FDA approved 1%-3% concentration mixed with an equal part of water is strictly adhered to. There have been various government sites giving recommendations for the usage of hydrogen peroxide (H202) mouthwash in order to treat Acute Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis (Trench Mouth), gingivitis, plaque, and to a certain extent, even dental caries !
Besides, hydrogen peroxide (H202) also very economically viable, making it a cheaper alternative to more well established brands of mouthwash.
A clinical report in the Australian Dental Journal concluded that hydrogen peroxide (H202) in concentrations of 3% or less was safe while a more recent study at Boston University found that a hydrogen peroxide (H202) rinse (Rembrandt) was effective in reducing plaque and gingivitis. A certain extent of tooth whitening was also noticed without the presence of gingival irritation.
So that means it’s totally safe !
Now hold on just one minute, not one of these rinses obtained the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.
Usage of hydrogen peroxide (H202)mouthwash is known to leave your mouth feeling very dry and may lead to bad breath because germs tend to adhere more strongly to dried up teeth and gums. Rinsing out your mouth with water is indicated to keep your mouth moist as well as to wash out excess unreacted peroxide.
Too high a dose of hydrogen peroxide (H202) is known to cause skin injuries and it’s ingestion is possibly fatal, especially at 35% concentration.
Under professional recommendation, hydrogen peroxide (H202) is recommended for external use only. Even 3% hydrogen peroxide (H202)sold in pharmacies and drug-stores which people purchase and dilute to make mouthwash may contain other stabilization chemicals which can be harmful if ingested. When in doubt, examine the bottle for a sentence saying ‘ For External Use Only’ .
So what now?
Hydrogen peroxide (H202) mouthwash can be a god-sent or it can be a bane. Its efficacy is not to be doubted but its safety concern may leave much to be desired with.
It is best to stick to the FDA recommended concentration of 1%-3% that can be bought in drugstores and pharmacies (making sure they are for home use and not for industrial use) , even so making sure to dilute the solution with an equal part of water once more. After rinsing and swishing it in your mouth, spit all of it out, and be sure to rinse thoroughly with water to remove excess hydrogen peroxide as well as to hydrate the surfaces in the oral cavity.
In conclusion Hydrogen Peroxide (H202) is safe to use as a mouthwash if and only if it is used properly and in the proper concentrations.