Effectiveness of Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash (Is it safe?)

Effectiveness of Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash (Is it safe?)
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Effectiveness of Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash (Is it safe?)Clinical Content Reviewed by Dr. Jay Khorsandi, DDS
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Table of Contents

  1. Is It Effective?
  2. How Do You Use It
  3. Is It Okay to Swallow Hydrogen Peroxide
  4. Other Benefits
  5. References

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild but effective antiseptic, and hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes are a safe and commonly used for antiviral and antibacterial treatments in professional and at-home healthcare settings. There are a number of hydrogen peroxide rinses available over the counter, and they’re readily available in drug stores and grocery stores and through online retailers (Walmart, Target, Amazon, etc.).

Dentists have used hydrogen peroxide as a bleaching chemical by dentists for more than 70 years. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved hydrogen peroxide to be sold to consumers as an ingredient in products and as a product itself in pharmacies nationwide. Numerous hygiene brands use hydrogen peroxide as an active ingredient because of that allowance.

For at-home care, hydrogen peroxide providers label their products with “for use as an antiseptic gargle or rinse” or similar words, indicating that it is safe to use by the general public.

Is Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash Effective?

Although other cleansing agents work better in some cases, research shows that hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes promote a healthy mouth and whiter smile over time.

When applied, the liquid bubbles and produces a foam as it cleans.

Hydrogen peroxide is water with an extra oxygen molecule (H2O2). The additional oxygen molecule oxidizes, making it powerful enough to kill germs and bleach color.

Hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes (HPMs) were tested in many forms by clinicians, including a trial related to Ventilator-Associated Pneumonia (VAP), and in carefully observed studies that prove HPMs can prevent gingival inflammation (also known as gingivitis) and plaque build-up.

Under careful instruction, you can use hydrogen peroxide as a preventative treatment. It is more effective as a long-term treatment for plaque buildup than short-term. You will need to use it consistently for several months to see results.

With low dosages, the chemical eradicates bad bacteria that become tartar, encouraging tooth enamel to strengthen over time. It also kills bacteria that cause bad breath. (It is only a short-term fix for bad breath, although regular (and effective) brushing and flossing can help as well.)

How Do You Use It?

How to Make Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash

You can buy HPMs that are ready to be rinsed with. Directions for usage should be labeled on the HPM bottle. They are typically simple to follow.

You can also make your hydrogen peroxide mouthwash at home.

Mix one part of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 2 parts water to get the proper diluted mixture. If you buy 1% hydrogen peroxide, you do not need to dilute it. If rinsing is not an option, you can create the mixture in a water flosser and spray the diluted hydrogen peroxide onto the gums.

Hydrogen peroxide is a combustible liquid, which is what gives it its foaming properties. That means the hydrogen peroxide is killing the bacteria while it is releasing oxygen during the process.

Do not rinse with hydrogen peroxide for seven days in a row, and avoid using a concentration higher than 3%. Using it too much can damage the enamel that protects teeth, as well as cause irritation to soft tissues.

Consult with a dentist or physician for suggested use of the mouthwash. Only adults and children aged 6 years and over should rinse with an HPM. For younger children, a physician or dentist should prescribe an HPM, if needed.

Due to its antiseptic properties, gargling with hydrogen peroxide can treat minor mouth irritations, such as cuts or canker sores.

Is It Okay to Swallow Hydrogen Peroxide?

Swallowing a little bit of hydrogen peroxide mouthwash won’t harm you, but you may experience some side effects, depending on the concentration and how much you have swallowed. The higher the concentration, the greater the risk of damage.

Some common side effects are nausea, stomach irritation, and vomiting. If those symptoms are prolonged, or a child has ingested some of the mouthwash, contact poison control as soon as possible.

Other Health Benefits?

You can use hydrogen peroxide to improve your health—or make your life easier—in other ways. It is an effective cleaner, and you can use it to make tough scrubbing jobs easier. Some other uses:

  • Cleaning your dishwasher. Use a spray bottle to spray the solution and run the empty dishwasher.
  • Clean surfaces. Mix water and hydrogen peroxide 50/50 and wipe down the countertops, doorknobs, refrigerators, toys, windows and bathroom amenities.
  • Clean pots and pans. Mix baking soda with hydrogen peroxide to make a paste and apply the paste to skillets, pots or pans from which you want to remove crusty, stuck-on food, sauces and stains. Add water, and you have an effective natural scrubbing compound.
  • Disinfect your toothbrush. Toothbrushes hold on to germs that were gathered from your mouth. Soak your toothbrush for a few minutes in hydrogen peroxide, then rinse the toothbrush with hot water. Doing this once a week should keep your toothbrush properly sanitized.


What Is Hydrogen Peroxide Good For? (December 29, 2021). Cleveland Clinic. Date fetched: July 27, 2021.

Safety issues related to the use of hydrogen peroxide in dentistry. (December 2000). National Library of Medicine. Date fetched: July 27, 2021.

Antiseptic Oral Cleanser. (July 19, 2021). National Library of Medicine. Date fetched: July 27, 2021.

Efficacy of chlorhexidine, hydrogen peroxide, and tulsi extract mouthwash in reducing halitosis using spectrophotometric analysis: A randomized controlled trial. (May 2019). Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry. Date fetched: July 27, 2021.

Evaluation of the effect of hydrogen peroxide as a mouthwash in comparison with chlorhexidine in chronic periodontitis patients: A clinical study. (May 2016). National Library of Medicine. Date fetched: July 27, 2021).

The effects of hydrogen peroxide mouthwashes on the prevention of plaque and gingival inflammation: a systematic review. (August 2011). National Library of Medicine. Date fetched: July 27, 2021.

Effects of hydrogen peroxide mouthwash on preventing ventilator-associated pneumonia in patients admitted to the intensive care unit. (October 2016). Brazilian Journal of Infectious Diseases. Date fetched: July 27, 2021.

Hydrogen Peroxide: A review of its use in dentistry. (September 1995). National Library of Medicine. Date fetched: July 27, 2021.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to serve as dental or other professional health advice and is not intended to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any condition or symptom. You should consult a dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.