30 May 2017

The Hidden Benefits of Hydrogen Peroxide

Dr. José Gabriel Luque, LATAM Medical Director
Pan-American Life Insurance Group

Hydrogen peroxide is a compound made up of the same elements as water, but with an extra oxygen atom (H2O2).

Known as one of the only disinfecting agents consisting of only water and oxygen, it primarily attacks anaerobic bacteria (which are considered the most pathogenic). When hydrogen peroxide comes into contact with certain substances, such as the catalase enzyme that is present in the tissue, it rapidly degrades, producing oxygen and preventing the spread of anaerobic spores.

At various concentrations, it is frequently used as: fuel in the space industry (90% concentration); a paper pulp, cotton and fabric whitener; a laundry detergent, fungi remover, and even as a furniture cleaning agent. In the field of medicine, it has been used for centuries as a topical disinfectant (3% to 5% concentration).

But let’s focus on a lesser known use that, along with its relatively low cost, makes it very practical: hydrogen peroxide as a mouth rinse.

A tablespoon of this compound offers the following benefits:
  1. Sanitizes toothbrushes
    After brushing, toothbrushes can be disinfected in a glass of hydrogen peroxide until the next time you brush.
  2. Whitens teeth 
    It’s no secret that dentists use high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth. These treatments are expensive and painful given the increased tooth sensitivity produced by rapid oxygenation of enamel and the resulting whitening effect. However, rinsing with hydrogen peroxide 2-3 times a day yields the same results without the pain, and at a fraction of the cost. For even better results, you can mix sodium bicarbonate (Baking Soda) and hydrogen peroxide and use it as toothpaste for less than $1.00 USD. This mixture produces the healthiest, cheapest and most effective whitening product.
  3. Gets rid of bad breath
    Bad breath primarily results when bacteria and fungi adhere to the tooth surface and form dentin biofilm. Rinsing with hydrogen peroxide immediately lessens this condition. However, without adequate hygiene, including daily flossing and brushing, the results are very short-lived.
  4. Protects against cavities
    We know that hydrogen peroxide attacks bacteria and fungi produced by food particles and sugars in the mouth. These are all cavity causing factors, and they are all vulnerable to the oxidizing effect of H2O2. 
  5. Temporally relieves toothaches 
    If a toothache wakes you up at midnight and there isn’t an analgesic available, you can get temporary pain relief with a mix hydrogen peroxide and water. Swish the mixture in your mouth focusing on the afflicted area. This can help alleviate the pain and ward off bacteria and inflammation.


About the Author:
Surgeon Physician at the Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia, with training at the Instituto Nacional de Cancerología also in Colombia. He also completed a specialty in Laparoscopic Surgery at Baptist Clinic in Miami, Florida, and has over 30 years of experience in the medical field. He currently serves as Regional Medical Director of Pan-American Life LATAM, where he oversees diverse strategies to streamline medical expenses and improve the quality of health services for our policyholders.

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