Mouthwash and diabetes: Can mouthwash give you diabetes?

Most of us use mouthwash to improve our oral hygiene but can mouthwash give you diabetes at the same time? Nobody suspected it until a study came out in 2017 alleging mouthwash can give you diabetes. The antibacterial ingredients in antibacterial mouthwash can throw the oral microbiome off balance. In simple terms, they can destroy the good bacteria in your mouth. 

It also puts you at risk of prediabetes which begins with insulin resistance. Insulin regularity is crucial for stable blood sugar levels.

Now let’s get deeper into the findings of this research and find out how using mouthwash can give you diabetes:

Mouthwash and diabetes: is there a connection?

Let’s face it, how many of us know what’s inside our mouthwash? Could it contain ingredients that can harm our general well-being? It is of course better to be safe than sorry!

Research in Puerto Rico revealed alarming info about over-the-counter mouthwashes. (1) It shows an association between regular oral rinses and increased prediabetes/diabetes risk. Now you may be wondering, what’s the science behind it? Here is how mouthwash can scientifically elevate the risk for diabetes or prediabetes:

  • Antibacterial ingredients in mouthwash can destroy good oral bacteria

  • Mouthwashes can disrupt the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide process

Antibacterial ingredients in mouthwash can destroy good oral bacteria

Mouth rinses are convenient but their overconsumption can bring more harm than good. They contain strong anti-bacterial mouthwash formulas such as Chlorhexidine. It is in fact the main disinfectant used in over-the-counter mouth rinses that gives them a strong taste. It can cause side effects such as tooth staining, wheezing, tongue irritation, sore mouth, etc. (2)

Such strong antibacterial substances can throw your oral microbiome off balance. They can destroy the good bacteria in your mouth that help regulate your blood sugar.

Mouthwashes can disrupt the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide process

So how can mouthwash affect your insulin levels? How can it elevate the risk of prediabetes/type 2 diabetes?

The nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway is a process that takes place inside our mouths. It is a simple breakdown process in which nitrate acid turns into nitrite and then nitric oxide. Antibacterial ingredients can impact this cycle and lower nitric acid production. Less nitric oxide in your body can wreak havoc on your insulin. Thus, our aim should be to have foods/beverages that encourage the production of nitric oxide. Some of the foods that improve nitric oxide production in the body include spinach, broccoli, eggplants etc. 

Apart from diabetes, low nitric acid levels can also cause hypertension and impaired vascular function. (3)

FAQs on mouthwash and diabetes:

Mouthwashes are best known for improving one’s oral health but is there a way they can cause diabetes? Here are some of the common queries about diabetes and mouthwash:

Is mouthwash bad for diabetics?

This is something you should first run by your dentist. Regular mouthwashes contain antibacterial ingredients that can disrupt your nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide regulates your insulin and if you lack it, there can be insulin resistance. Due to insulin resistance, your blood sugar level can shoot up and lead to kidney disease or heart disease.

Thus, people with diabetes must consult their doctor first to know if using mouthwash is safe for them.

Can mouthwash raise your blood sugar?

If you are already a diabetic and use mouthwash, there is a possibility your blood sugar may go up. If you are not a diabetic, long term use of oral rinses may raise blood sugar levels due to lack of nitric acid. The antibacterial components in regular oral rinses can reduce the production of nitric acid. The production of nitric acid is crucial for insulin regulation in the body. Insulin regulation may result in a spike in glucose in your blood.

Can mouthwash cause type 2 diabetes?

First, let’s learn the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a genetic condition and occurs due to an autoimmune reaction in the body. Whereas Type 2 diabetes is more lifestyle-related and can occur due to a poor lifestyle. Type 2 diabetes is possible by using oral rinses because of the antibacterial ingredients. They cause an imbalance in the oral flora and affect nitric oxide production.

This is not proven yet but studies predict there is a connection between the two. As per studies, antibacterial ingredients in mouthwashes can destroy the good bacteria. The normal nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway suffers due to it. The disruption of this process leads to less nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide regulates your insulin and the lack of it may raise your blood sugar and cause Type 2 diabetes.

Thus, there is scientific evidence that supports this idea. To be on the safer side though, first, consult your dentist and family physician.

How mouthwash cause Type 2 diabetes?

For a take-away, if you are one of regular users of mouth rinses and use it twice daily or more, we’d say cut it down to once daily. Your dentist can give you the best advice so consult them about this. If you never had diabetes, it can predispose you to prediabetes due to insulin resistance. If you are already diabetic, it can worsen your symptoms and cause high blood sugar. The antibacterial ingredients in mouthwash can lower down nitric acid production. Nitric oxide is a natural insulin regulator so that your blood sugar stays stable.

Is it true that rinsing with mouthwash twice a day can give you diabetes?

There is no specific study that says rinsing twice with mouth rinse causes diabetes. There are studies though that support the idea that mouthwash can give you diabetes. The concerned study tested 945 people over a period of 3 years. Results show people who used mouthwash twice every day were 55% percent more at risk.

Thus, it shows that more usage can have a more drastic effect on your insulin levels.

Does alcohol mouthwash cause diabetes?

There is no particular study that shows a connection between the two. Although few studies do raise a concern about the antibacterial contents in daily mouthwash. Chlorhexidine mouthwash is a strong antibacterial to look out for in this case. Alcohol rinses can cause other issues though, such as enamel erosion, tooth decay, dry mouth, gum disease, etc. Alcoholic mouth rinses are high in pH which can be harmful for your oral health, as it may also kill the beneficial bacteria. Thus, consult your dentist first and pick an oral rinse that’s best for you.


(1) Joshipura, K. J., Muñoz-Torres, F. J., Morou-Bermudez, E., & Patel, R. P. (2017, December 1). Over-the-counter mouthwash use and risk of pre-diabetes/diabetes. Nitric oxide : biology and chemistry. Retrieved January 30, 2023, from

(2) McCoy LC;Wehler CJ;Rich SE;Garcia RI;Miller DR;Jones JA; (n.d.). Adverse events associated with chlorhexidine use: Results from the Department of Veterans Affairs Dental Diabetes Study. Journal of the American Dental Association (1939). Retrieved January 30, 2023, from

(3) Joshipura K;Muñoz-Torres F;Fernández-Santiago J;Patel RP;Lopez-Candales A; (n.d.). Over-the-counter mouthwash use, nitric oxide and hypertension risk. Blood pressure. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from