We wouldn’t be lying if we told you that one of the first things people notice about each other is their teeth. Your pearly whites could actually be saying a lot about you, especially on date nights. In fact, due to the quest for the perfect set of teeth and oral hygiene, the orthodontics industry in America is an 11-billion-dollar industry that’s only expected to grow with time! Though you may have shelled out big bucks for good oral hygiene, all you really need to look after your oral system could be right at home, in that bottle of hydrogen peroxide solution!
Yes, hydrogen peroxide! Hydrogen peroxide, chemically written as “H2O2”, is a chemical compound that is colorless and slightly more viscous than water at room temperature. Initially intended as a bleaching agent, antiseptic and disinfectant, hydrogen peroxide, today, has to its credit a variety of purposes! Whether for bleaching your hair, washing vegetables, preventing infections, clearing acne or removing ear wax, over 90% of American households are sure to have a bottle of this stuff in their medical or kitchen cabinets.
What really concerns us, though, is the use of hydrogen peroxide in dentistry. “H2O2” has become a permanent fixture in the orthodontic industry due to the various benefits it provides to oral hygiene. This stuff really is the genie in the bottle for oral health! Let’s take a look at what benefits your oral hygiene could reap from hydrogen peroxide.
Why “H202” Is an Oral Health All-Rounder!
Hydrogen peroxide was first used by dentists in 1913 to decrease plaque formation and control gum disease. When applied to the infected area, it releases oxygen, which causes foaming and removes dead skin and bacteria from the area.
Over time, the chemical compound acquired a number of uses, such as:
- An Antiseptic: Hydrogen peroxide is used as a mild antiseptic for cuts and bruises in the mouth, especially for any shallow cuts and bruises that may occur during orthodontic treatments such as braces or minor surgeries. Using a paste of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to brush your teeth also helps prevent gingivitis, due to the former’s ability to kill bacteria.
- A Sanitizer: As hydrogen peroxide is already a well-known disinfectant, its disinfecting abilities can be put to use to sanitize dental equipment or even toothbrushes, keeping them free from any bacteria build up.
- A Teeth-Whitener: A bleaching agent, hydrogen peroxide is also commonly used to whiten teeth, a property that enables its presence in several kinds of toothpaste and mouthwash.
- A Treatment for Gingivitis: Hydrogen peroxide is useful in treating gum disease, especially periodontal disease (a type of gingivitis or gum disease that causes inflamed and bleeding gums). Many studies show the high success rate of hydrogen peroxide in treating periodontal disease.
- A Mouthwash: As mentioned, hydrogen peroxide is a key component in many brands of mouthwash due to its holistic effectiveness. Its antiseptic properties help relieve minor irritation and heal shallow cuts, while its bleaching properties help keep your pearly whites exactly that. It’s also highly effective in killing off bacteria, helping prevent plaque, bad breath and other unsavory oral conditions. Thus, it’s a great contributor to good oral hygiene.
Mouthwashes You Can Make at Home with “H202”!
Since the easiest way to use or apply hydrogen peroxide is with an oral rinse, we list out some great do-it-yourself hydrogen peroxide mouthwash recipes that you could try at home. And to add to their credibility, homemade mouthwashes may even be more effective than the ones you get off pharmacy counters, as the latter may contain unhealthy chemicals such as sodium lauryl sulfate and parabens. These mouthwashes may also be sweetened using artificial sugars that are carcinogens (such as sodium saccharin), and also contain artificial flavors and coloring. Other commercial mouthwashes that are alcohol-based may be secretly contributing to cancers of the mouth, tongue and throat. Though effective in the short term, alcohol-based mouthwashes can dry your mouth out in the long run, leading to bad breath. Add to all this that you’re saving yourself money, and it’s really a no-brainer!
So ditch the commercial mouthwashes and try out our hydrogen peroxide mouthwash recipes. After all, there’s no place like home to start your journey towards healthy teeth and gums!
Natural Peppermint Antiseptic Mouthwash
What You’ll Need
- 240 ml (a cup) of filtered or distilled water
- 240 ml (a cup) of 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- 5 – 10 drops of peppermint oil
Add the essential oil to honey, blending both well. Add the distilled water and hydrogen peroxide, shaking well to combine. This mouthwash can be used immediately after brushing. Swish and gargle it for 2 minutes, following which you can spit and rinse with water.
Essential Oils and “H202” Homemade Mouthwash
What You’ll Need
- 120 ml of purified/distilled water
- 120 ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 60 ml of aloe vera juice
- 4 drops of peppermint oil
- 4 drops of spearmint oil
- 3 drops of eucalyptus oil
- 2 drops of rosemary oil
- 2 drops of cinnamon oil
- 2 drops of myrrh oil
- 1 drop of clove oil
- 1 drop of thyme oil
- 2-4 teaspoons of xylitol
- A glass bottle (big enough to store 300 ml)
Combine all the ingredients thoroughly and store in the glass bottle. This mouthwash is highly beneficial due to its holistic goodness. Each of the ingredients contributes positively to your oral hygiene. Use first thing in the morning before brushing, swishing for 30-60 seconds, and spit. You may follow this up with a water rinse. Ensure you shake the bottle well before each use.
What You’ll Need
- 1 teaspoon of dried cloves or clove powder
- 2 tablespoons of dried plantain leaf
- 2 tablespoons of dried peppermint leaf
- 1 tablespoon of rosemary leaf
- 15 drops of cinnamon or peppermint oil
- Boiling water (as required)
- 240 ml of glycerin or apple cider vinegar (as per your preference)
- 120 ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide
- 120 ml of water
Place all the dried herbs in a jar and pour just enough boiling water to dampen them, so as to release the aromas and the properties of the herbs. Add the glycerin or apple cider vinegar and store the entire mixture in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks. Ensure you shake the mixture each day to help the herbs infuse. At the end of this period, strain the mixture (either with cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer) and add in the essential oils, water and hydrogen peroxide. You can store this mouthwash in a glass jar and use when required, swishing for 30 seconds at a time and spitting.
Baking Soda, Salt and Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash
What You’ll Need
- 2 teaspoons of baking soda
- 2 teaspoons of table salt
- 2 teaspoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide
- Water (as required)
Combine all the ingredients to make a solution. Use this as a mouth rinse after brushing, swishing in your mouth for 30-60 seconds. This is especially helpful for those with inflamed gums.
Some Points to Remember!
The most important thing to remember is to never swallow hydrogen peroxide! Swallowing hydrogen peroxide is highly toxic for your body, and symptoms can manifest in the form of breathing trouble or passing out if you’ve accidentally ingested hydrogen peroxide.
Next, ensure that you store your hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes in dark bottles and away from sunlight, as sunlight causes “H202” to break down into simple “H20” (also known as water). Thirdly, only use 3% or lesser hydrogen peroxide, as anything more can be harmful to your teeth. High concentrations of hydrogen peroxide can penetrate the enamel of your teeth and affect the material inside (“dentin”, or “dental pulp), causing tooth decay and loss of teeth. Sometimes, prolonged use of the chemical can cause irritation in your mouth and be harsh especially on those with crowns and fillings.
If you experience any irritation, stop using hydrogen peroxide immediately and visit your dentist. And if you accidentally ingest hydrogen peroxide, seek immediate medical assistance. Sometimes, very rarely, it is also possible to be allergic to hydrogen peroxide, which results in the same symptoms as ingesting hydrogen peroxide. Immediate medical assistance is also required in such cases.
The Final Word
Hydrogen peroxide has long been a trusted friend of dentists worldwide. If it wasn’t safe to use in the recommended dosage, it would have disappeared from pharmacy shelves worldwide long before now. However, though articles may sing its praises (appropriate though it may be!), ensure you try out the product for yourself before you make a long-term investment in it. Even better is if you ask your dentist for advice on using hydrogen peroxide on a regular basis.
So do your research and then wholeheartedly welcome hydrogen peroxide into your home cabinets! It’s definitely a worthy addition.