Regular Mouthwash Use Linked to Prediabetes and Diabetes

When you consider factors linked to diabetes you may think of a poor diet, lack of exercise or being overweight, all of which are linked to type 2 diabetes. You probably donít think of regular mouthwash use. You may even scoff at such a notion. Yet, research now links regular mouthwash use to an increased risk of diabetes.

New research published in the medical journal Nitric Oxide found that regular mouthwash use destroys beneficial bacteria in the mouth that are needed for our health, which may increase our diabetes risk. The researchers found that using over-the-counter mouthwash two or more times daily increased the risk of pre-diabetes and diabetes. The Mayo Clinic describes pre-diabetes as a condition in which a person has elevated blood sugars, although the sugar levels havenít reached the levels of diabetes. Diabetes involves elevated blood sugars and often symptoms like increased thirst, frequent urination, extreme hunger, fatigue, irritability and slow healing sores or wounds.

The researchers assessed 1206 overweight or obese individuals aged 40 to 65 who were free of diabetes or heart disease at the onset of the study. The researchers found that using mouthwash twice a day destroys beneficial bacteria in the mouth that are important to overall health, increasing the risk of pre-diabetes or diabetes by 55 percent. They accounted for other factors such as diet, sleep disorders, oral hygiene, medication use, income, education and fasting glucose levels.

Beneficial oral bacteria play a critical role in our health. As part of the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) researchers have discovered that every person has a collection of bacterial ecosystems in various parts of their body. These miniature ecosystems can be found in the intestines, in our mouth, on our teeth, on our hands and elsewhere in the body. The sum total of all microbes in or on your body are known as the microbiome. Every person has a microbiome and every microbiome is different from another, in the same way that our finger prints are unique to us.

While the research into beneficial microbes in the mouth is still early, we do know from earlier research that certain beneficial bacteria in the gut have been linked to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and a healthy weight. One of the studies critical to our understanding of the important role of microbes was published in the journal Internal and Emergency Medicine. It showed how altering the flora in the gut could help in the prevention and treatment of metabolic disorders.

We may not know exactly what will ensure the health of friendly bacteria in the mouth while destroying harmful ones, we do know that probiotics found in fermented foods and supplements may be helpful. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology explored the use of lozenges containing the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri on 30 healthy people who experienced periodontitisóa gum infection that damages the soft tissue in the mouth and sometimes the bone that supports the teeth. In that study scientists found a reduction in the oral bacteria linked to the dental condition. While there is no guarantee that the harmful oral bacteria linked to periodontitis are the same as the ones that influence metabolic health, research shows that L. reuteri have widespread healing benefits, so using probiotics or probiotic lozenges containing these beneficial bacteria may help or at the very least improve our oral health.

Instead of commercial mouthwashes which frequently contain harsh preservatives, colors and antibacterial agents, choose natural herbal mouthwashes that have been shown to kill harmful bacteria but which are less harmful to the beneficial microbes in your mouth. Calendula tea, for example, makes an excellent mouthwash and is easy to make at home.

Related:†6 Health Benefits and Uses for Calendula

The beneficial bacteria in our gut have been found to positively respond to several other lifestyle factors, including:

-Eating probiotic-rich fermented foods like yogurt or vegan yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and fermented pickles on a daily basis.

-Eating more plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.

-Significantly reducing sugar consumption. Harmful bacteria and other infectious microbes feed on sugar and sugary foods, which can quickly cause an imbalance of microbes in our bodies.

While we wait on research that shows us exactly how to keep beneficial microbes intact in our mouth, making the dietary choices above will at least improve the health of our overall microbiome.

Related Stories:


Dr. Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the publisher of the free e-news Worldís Healthiest News, the Cultured Cook, president of ScentsationalWellness, and an international best-selling and 20-time published book author whose works include: The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life.



Richard A
Richard A3 months ago

Thank you for this interesting article.

Son Y.
Son Y.3 months ago

I only use mouthwash when I have that feeling in my throat that I'm about to get a cold (though when it's really not feeling good, I gargle with a teaspoon of salt in a cup of water instead), because once I really get a cold, it gets into my lungs and I find it hard to shake off. I learned about this from a documentary (one of the persons in it actually dunked his head into a saline solution every day!) and I've managed to be cold-free for a few years thanks to this.

Roxana Saez
Roxana Saez3 months ago


Marija M
Marija M3 months ago

thank you

Tara W
Tara W3 months ago

Hmm I always suspected drug store mouthwashes were bad news.

John B
John B3 months ago

Thanks Michelle for sharing the info. the many relevant links and supportive links.

Winn A
Winn Adams3 months ago


Winn A
Winn Adams3 months ago

That stuff is just nasty

Mike R
Mike R3 months ago


Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga3 months ago