Regular Use Of Mouthwash May Increase Risk For Diabetes

by Robert Glatter, MD

Just as brushing our teeth is part of our daily oral care routine, no one would think twice about using mouthwash to go with it.

But a new study now raises questions of whether regular use of mouthwash may increase risk for developing type 2 diabetes in those persons who are already at higher risk for the disease.

The study, published in the Journal, Nitric Oxide, found that persons who use mouthwash at least two times a day had a 55% higher risk of developing prediabetes or diabetes over a three-year follow-up period compared with those who used it less frequently. Among persons who used mouthwash at least twice a day, 30 percent developed either prediabetes or diabetes.

Mouthwash contains compounds which kill both good and bad types of oral bacteria
that contribute to development of plaque and bad breath. But some of the beneficial bacteria that colonize our oral cavities also produce a chemical--nitric oxide--that helps to prevent diabetes.

Nitric oxide plays an important role in regulation of insulin levels in the body
, which in turn has a large effect on our energy level and metabolic rates.

Destruction of “good” bacteria by frequent use of mouthwash changes the oral flora, altering metabolism of blood sugar in our bodies, leading to prediabetes or diabetes.

For the study, the researchers evaluated 1,206 overweight persons between the ages of 40-65 without diabetes or any known history of coronary artery disease. Complete data was available on 945 patients. This study was part of the San Juan Overweight Longitudinal Study in Puerto Rico.