Can You Rinse With Hydrogen Peroxide?

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We all know that Doctor Google is a terrible fear monger.

What we also need to know is that Pinterest and Twitter are not doctors by any means.

I found a pin on Pinterest stating that all tooth whitening is made of peroxide. The gels run from 6 percent peroxide to 32 percent peroxide. If you swish with hydrogen peroxide everyday you will have the same results plus excellent gum tissue! As a dental hygienist, I recommend swishing with peroxide for 1-2 minutes morning and night to all my patients. It kills bacteria that causes decay, gingivitis, periodontal disease.”

I’m not a chemistry wiz, but I remember being told that Hydrogen Peroxide is not fit for human consumption. Remember that awesome LOLcat? For those of you even more inept at chemistry than I am, H2O2 is the chemical formula for Hydrogen Peroxide.

I did some research:

Turns out there are entire debates about the use of Hydrogen Peroxide.

It seems to be magnifenctly useful in soil and agriculture. It’s great for the treatment of sewerage. It’s great for household cleaning too.

Also, it appears the Hydrogen Peroxide is produced quite commonly in systems of the body, so in those small amounts it is not poisonous because the body has the appropriate catalase peroxidases to decompose such levels.

What is important to note is that Hydrogen Peroxide is essentially bleach – a 6% solution is used to bleach hair. As such it is corrosive and an irritant to skin and mucous membranes. Irritation of your stomach and gut can likely lead to diarrhoea and vomiting.

A lot of scientists seem to encourage the use of H2O2 due to its ability to free up oxygen. And oxygen is great, right? But freeing up too much oxygen is NOT good. Too much free oxygen can even give rise to venous air embolism. Ulceration and decreased level of consciousness are other side effects of ingestion, inhalation or intravenous administration.

Some more research indicates that there are different grades of H2O2 – ranging from pharmaceutical and beautician grades, to electronic and rocket fuel grades. Only one grade, 35% food grade, is purported to be safe for internal use, as it is used in the production of foods containing cheese, eggs and whey.

You also can’t just swish with this H2O2 – it has to be mixed with bicarbonate and water and apparently tastes horrible. Furthermore, it is said that while regular rinsing with such a mixture is moderately good for periodontal health, it is not any better than regular brushing-and-flossing.

So there you have it. Not as harmful as I thought, but only if you use it the right way. Always check up on facts before taking advice – the advice may not be BAD, just half-baked.

* Disclaimer: as always, readers should consult their qualified doctor or dentist and not consider this to be qualified medical advice.

  1. The Many Benefits of Hydrogen Peroxide, Dr David G. Williams, Educate-Yourself
  2. Hydrogen Peroxide in the Human Body, Barry Halliwell, Marie Veronique Clement, Lee Hua Long
  3. Toxic Substances Portal – Hydrogen Peroxide
  4. Brushing up on Gum Disease, Steven Shepherd M.P.H.
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