Can You Put Mouthwash In a Water Flosser? Dentists Weigh In on the TikTok Trend

<p>MalaikaCasal / Getty Images</p>

MalaikaCasal / Getty Images

Fact checked by Nick Blackmer

Key Takeaways

  • Some people use mouthwash or other substances in their water flossers rather than tap water.

  • Replacing the water in your water flosser with mouthwash isn’t bad for you, but it won’t help unless you have cavities or periodontal disease, according to dentists.

  • Other substances—like hydrogen peroxide—can damage your water flosser.

As the name suggests, water flossers were initially intended for use with water. The devices—which can help you remove pieces of food wedged between your teeth—are good for hard-to-reach spots in your mouth.

Now, thanks to this TikTok trend, many are putting other liquids, like mouthwash or hydrogen peroxide, in their water flossers.

Putting mouthwash in your water flosser isn’t necessarily a bad idea; it’s just unnecessary, experts said. “I typically recommend using warm water in water flossers,” Sasha Ross, DMD, a dentist at Cleveland Clinic, told Verywell.

Using mouthwash in your water flosser could be helpful in some specific cases. “Using mouthwash that has an antibacterial in it—those can have some benefits if we’ve got somebody that needs some extra help [with] cavities or periodontal disease,” Matthew Messina, DDS, assistant professor at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry, told Verywell.

That said, for most people, there aren’t any clear-cut benefits to using anything other than water, Messina said.

People with some illnesses should avoid mouthwash entirely as it can be harmful to them, he added.

Related: 12 Common Teeth Problems

Why Are People Putting Mouthwash In Their Water Flossers?

Some TikTok users claim putting mouthwash in their water flosser cleans their teeth effectively, and doing so won’t necessarily hurt you or your device, experts said. (The company behind a popular water flosser, the Waterpik, has said it’s OK to put mouthwash in their products.)

However, using water will also do the trick; tap water (or the water you brush your teeth with) will work. Ross said she recommends using warm water in case your teeth are sensitive to cold. “I recommend starting with a low setting and potentially increasing the pressure over time,” she added.

If you have cavities or periodontal (gum) disease, you may want to consider trying mouthwash in your water flosser, Messina said. The antibacterial agents in some mouthwash products may help. If you can, check with a dentist to see if this may benefit you before trying the trend, he added: “That’s what your dentist is there for.” Your dentist can help you decide which mouthwash may help, Messina said.

After using mouthwash in your water flosser, you’ll want to rinse it out with water, Ross said.

Certain people should avoid using mouthwash in any capacity, Messina said, including those with oral mucositis, a complication of radiation therapy that causes inflammation in the mouth.

Additionally, it’s safest to stick with water when helping your children use a water flosser since some mouthwash products contain alcohol, Messina said. If your child can’t spit out the mouthwash administered by the device, they may end up swallowing a lot of alcohol, which can cause gastrointestinal issues.

Related: The Connection Between Diabetes and Periodontal Disease

Hydrogen Peroxide May Damage Your Device

While it’s not necessarily dangerous, putting hydrogen peroxide in your water flosser won’t do anything for your teeth, Messina said. This is because of what happens when hydrogen peroxide is exposed to oxygen—for instance, when you open the bottle and pour it into your water flosser. “It breaks down on contact with air,” Messina explained. “It breaks down quickly to water and oxygen gas, so there’s not a strong benefit to” using hydrogen peroxide in your water flosser.

It can also damage your device. “Many manufacturers do not recommend using hydrogen peroxide in their units because it can be corrosive and damaging to the unit,” Ross said.

You should also avoid putting pure essential oils (like tea tree oil), baking powder, iodine, salt, or saline solutions in Waterpik products, the company said.

Related: Guide to Brushing Your Teeth the Right Way

Who Benefits From Using a Water Flosser?

While water flossers can be helpful, they’re not essential. “The water flosser is an adjunct to good oral healthcare,” Messina said. “If somebody’s brushing very well and flossing and doing a good job, they don’t need to add anything into that mix.”

They can be helpful for people with certain health conditions that make it difficult to floss or otherwise clean their mouth, such as people with Parkinson’s disease or those with dental devices, Ross said.

“Water flossers are most beneficial in people with permanent bridges, missing teeth, spaces between their teeth, dental implants, braces, issues with manual dexterity, and permanent retainers bonded to their teeth,” Ross said. “I also recommend water flossers for people who struggle with using string floss but feel that a water flosser is easier to use.”

Ultimately, if you enjoy using mouthwash in your water flosser, you don’t need to change your routine. However, water works just as well if you run out of mouthwash and want to continue using your device, experts said.

If using your water flosser—no matter what’s inside it—results in certain symptoms, though, you should stop: “If you develop pain, swelling, or increased bleeding after using a water flosser, or feel that it’s too messy, please contact your dentist for an evaluation or demonstration of how to use the water flosser,” Ross said.

Talking to a dentist before changing your oral health routine is always a good idea since they’re familiar with your specific needs. “If people have questions, they need to get answers from their dentist” because oral health recommendations aren’t always generalizable, Messina said.

What This Means For You

Using a water flosser isn’t a crucial step in caring for your teeth, as regular brushing and flossing are. However, some people may benefit from using a water flosser, such as people with certain dental devices, like permanent retainers. Unless you have cavities or periodontal disease, you don’t need to put mouthwash in your water flosser; regular tap water will work fine.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.