In what seems to be a very strange connection, researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health have discovered that at-risk people who use mouthwash twice a day may increase their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by a whopping 55%.
The researchers believe that it’s due to the antibacterial properties of the mouthwash. While it’s great at killing all the bad bacteria in your mouth and throat known to cause plaque and bad breath, it also indiscriminately kills good microbes linked to controlling obesity and diabetes control.
In particular, the researchers point to the nitric oxide-producing bacteria in the mouth. Nitric oxide is known to help regulate insulin levels and metabolism in the body, balancing energy and keeping blood sugar levels in check. With mouthwash killing off this bacteria, it can throw out the healthy processes of your body.
“Most of these antibacterial ingredients in mouthwash are not selective,” said study researcher Kaumudi Joshipura. “In other words, they do not target specific oral bacteria — instead, these ingredients can act on a broad range of bacteria.”
To make sure these findings weren’t purely coincidental — a lot of people use mouthwash, after all — the researchers took into account a massive list of other factors that could contribute the development of obesity and diabetes, including “income, education, oral hygiene, oral conditions, sleep breathing disorders, diet (processed meat, fruit, and vegetable intake), medications, HOMA-IR, fasting glucose, 2hr post load glucose or CRP to the multivariate models.” Yet after all this, the common factor was mouthwash.
To keep the bacteria in your mouth happy and balanced, Joshipura recommends limiting the use of mouthwash to just once per day.