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Hydrogen Peroxide: COVID Killer?

Following recommendations from the American Dental Association and Centers for Disease Control, we are asking each patient to rinse for 1 minute with a 1.5% hydrogen peroxide rinse prior to treatment.

What is the reason for this recommendation?

Hydrogen peroxide is proven to have virucidal properties. While no studies show its’ particular effectiveness against COVID-19 in the mouth, it is known that the novel coronavirus is easily destroyed by most disinfectants. A hydrogen peroxide concentration of 0.5% has shown to be effective against COVID-19.

By having our patients pre-rinse with a hydrogen peroxide solution, we are reducing the potential viral load in the patient’s saliva and oral tissues.

Is the pre-rinse harmful to the mouth?

It is not recommended you use a concentration of over 5% hydrogen peroxide in the mouth. The drugstore version you find in brown bottles is 3% and is safe to use full strength, although you should dilute it. The concentrations we use as a pre-rinse are in formulations of 1.5%.

Used as directed, hydrogen peroxide breaks down into water and oxygen in the mouth and is therefore very safe.

What is the proper use?

It is recommended you rinse for 1 minute then spit out the excess.

Hydrogen peroxide is quickly degraded by elements in saliva, so the effects are not long lasting. But by starting treatment with a “clean slate”, we are reducing aerosol transmission that may occur during your procedure.

Can hydrogen peroxide cure someone if they have COVID-19?

No. It cannot cure someone if they are already infected, but is used to reduce the spread of the virus.

Do all mouth rinses have hydrogen peroxide in them?

No. In fact, most do not have hydrogen peroxide in them. Brands such as Scope and Listerine use essential oils and alcohol. In fact, the original Listerine formula is 54 proof!

Are there other mouth rinses that are effective?

Yes, there are several rinses that provide a similar effect, such as povidone iodine and chlorhexidine gluconate. Hydrogen peroxide is preferred since it is clinically acceptable for virucidal activity, is commercially available, inexpensive, and doesn’t have a terribly displeasing taste.

Where can I find it for home use?

We use Listerine Whitening Mouth Rinse for office use. You can find it, or a variant, at your local grocery and drug stores. Colgate Peroxyl is another great product but is less available in the retail market.

To make your own pre-rinse, dilute generic 3% hydrogen peroxide in a ratio of 2 parts water and 1 part hydrogen peroxide. Rinse for 1 minute and expectorate. If you want to get fancy, add some peppermint oil!

Michael D. Gillespie, DDS

Michael D. Gillespie, DDS