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Could Regular Use of Mouthwash Put You at Risk of Diabetes?

A group of researchers recently found that frequent regular use of over-the-counter mouthwash (twice or more a day) was associated to an increased risk of developing prediabetes or diabetes, especially for people who fall into the “high-risk” category – individuals who are overweight/obese.

The study had a sample size of 1,206 individuals from this category, aged 40 to 65 years old and were free from diabetes or cardiovascular diseases during the start of the study. It was found that 20% of them who used mouthwash once a day developed prediabetes/diabetes. The percentage significantly increased to 30% among those who used mouthwash at least twice a day.

The main reason cited for the association between regular use of mouthwash and increased risk of diabetes is that mouthwash not only eliminates the bad bacteria in our mouths, but it also removes the good bacteria. Bad bacteria causes plaque and decay, while good bacteria in this case refer to those that help to form nitric oxide, a chemical compound that helps to regulate insulin – the hormone that controls one’s blood sugar levels.

Therefore, what does this means for us? Should we still use mouthwash as part of our oral care routine?

Related: Types of Mouth Rinse (Article in Maple Leaf Times, February 2016)

To answer that question, we first understand what a mouthwash is for. The main function for a mouthwash is to freshen breath, while there are others that help to prevent caries (e.g. fluoride mouth rinse) or prevent infection after a dental surgery (e.g. antiseptic mouth rinse).

This means that it is not and should never be a replacement for any part of the regular oral care routine. This routine can be remembered easily using the rule of 2-2-2 – which means, brush your teeth two times a day, for two minutes each time and visit your dentist two times a year. In addition to that, floss once a day.

In some cases, mouthwash may be prescribed by your dentist/dental specialist if there is a need for it. For instance, if you have completed a dental surgery, or one has difficulty brushing and flossing adequately due to disease or disability.

Therefore, it is advisable that you consult your dental professional before you incorporate the use of any types of mouthwash in your oral care routine.


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