At our family dentistry in Edmond, Oklahoma, our team at Santa Fe Dental will always happily inform patients about the need to brush and floss daily. For many patients, their daily oral hygiene routine also includes the use of a mouthwash as just one more step towards enjoying the freshest, healthiest smile possible.
While mouthwash may seem like an innocuous part of any oral hygiene routine, a new study is now raising question of whether regularly using mouthwash may increase the risk for the development of type 2 diabetes in individuals already at a high risk for the disease.
Published in the journal Nitric Oxide, the study discovered that individuals who use mouthwash at least twice a day had a 55 percent higher risk of developing prediabetes or diabetes over a three-year follow-up period when compared to participants who used mouthwash less frequently.
Among the study participants who used mouthwash at least twice a day, 30 percent either developed diabetes or prediabetes, a condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet in the range for diabetes.
More Harm Than Good?
Over-the-counter mouthwash brands – especially those with alcohol – contain compounds that eliminate both good and bad types of oral bacteria from the mouth that contribute to the development of plaque buildup and bad breath. Unfortunately, some of the helpful oral bacteria that mouthwashes eliminate also product a chemical – nitric oxide – that helps to prevent diabetes.
Nitric oxide actually plays a vital role in the regulation of insulin levels in the body, which has a large effect on our metabolic rates and energy levels.
When this “good” bacteria are repeatedly destroyed by frequent mouthwash use, a change occurs to the oral microbiome that alters how are body is able to metabolize blood sugar in the body, leading to the development of diabetes or prediabetes.
As part of the study, researchers examined over 1,200 overweight individuals between the ages of 40 to 65 who did not have diabetes or any known history of coronary artery disease. Researchers had complete data available on nearly 950 of the study participants. This study was part of the larger San Juan Overweight Longitudinal Study that was conducted in Puerto Rico.
Researchers discovered that 43 percent of those involved in the study used mouthwash at least once a day, and 22 percent used it at least twice a day.
While both of these subgroups within the study were at a higher risk for developing diabetes or prediabetes, there was no association seen when mouthwash was used less than twice a day. Researchers believe that a threshold effect exists, so when the product is used more than twice a day it increases the risk for diabetes.
Researchers found this association held even when they adjusted for known risk factors for diabetes, such as income level, education, sleep breathing disorders, oral hygiene habits, diet, and obesity.
Researchers cautioned that while the results of their study found an association between frequent mouthwash use and the risk for diabetes, no cause and effect relationship was established.
Our Family Dentistry in Edmond, Oklahoma Can Help Protect Your Oral Health
In a previous blog post, we discussed which types of mouthwash to avoid and which to use. However, based on this latest study, it might be a good idea to limit your mouthwash use to just once a day, especially if overweight or have a family history of diabetes.
While rinsing with a mouthwash after brushing certainly adds some benefit when protecting your oral health, you can skip this step if you schedule regular visits to our family dentistry in Edmond, Oklahoma. Regular exams and cleanings provide our staff the chance to spot the signs of dental decay and disease early on before any lasting issues can develop.
So while it’s commendable to take your oral hygiene seriously, too much mouthwash could cause more problems than it prevents.