Study: Heavy mouthwash use linked to higher risk of type 2 diabetes

Could obsessing over fresh breath lead to needing insulin shots?

A new study out of Harvard University makes a baffling connection between mouthwash and type 2 diabetes.

While mouthwash kills off the bacteria that create bad breath and cause cavities, they can also smother good bacteria. One of the good bacteria mouthwash can kill is nitric oxide, which is important for regulating the metabolism and blood sugar levels - a major factor in diabetes.

Of the 1,206 people who participated in the study, the researchers found those who used mouthwash two or more times per day were 55 percent more likely to develop diabetes over a three year period.

The British Dental Association does not list mouthwash as an essential component to good oral health, and the American Dental Association warns while mouthwash “may be a helpful addition to the daily oral hygiene routine for some people,” it is “not a replacement for daily brushing and flossing.”

"This may mean you need to cut back on the mouthwash, but for all of our sakes, please don't stop brushing!"

RELATED: 10 myths about diabetes and food

10 Myths About Diabetes and Food
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10 Myths About Diabetes and Food

Remember that these are suggestions, and to always consult your doctor before changing your diet and exercise routine.

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Myth: Beans are proteins so I can eat as many as I want.

Real Deal: In one-half cup of beans, there are 7 grams of protein and 15 grams of carbohydrates. This can add up if you are eating rice and beans!

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Myth: I can never eat cake again!

Real Deal: Diabetes is not about deprivation, rather it is about moderation. You can eat all foods when you have diabetes. Adhere to consistent carbohydrate-counting principles and eat your cake with a lean protein and a monounsaturated fat.

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Myth: The harder I work out the better. Two cardio classes are better than one!

Real Deal: Nope — when your aerobic exercise becomes anaerobic from working out too hard, you raise your blood sugar. Wear a heart rate monitor to help stay in your target heart range and be sure you can talk to your neighbor to help stay in your aerobic zone.

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Myth: You can eat sugar-free cookies, cakes and ice creams without worrying!

Real Deal: NO. NO. Just because something is sugar-free, it doesn't mean it is carb-free. Carbohydrates raise our blood sugar because they are sugar!

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Myth: Fruit is nature's gift. I can eat as much as I want.

Real Deal: Fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, beans and grains are all carbohydrates and, thus, affect our blood sugar.

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Myth: I don't need to watch my diet if I am on medication.

Real Deal: Eating large meals high in carbohydrates and not exercising still affects the body. If you take insulin, you may gain excess weight if you start eating more carbs now that you can control your blood sugar with insulin. Insulin is not a free pass to eat more than your body needs or more carbohydrates per meal. Keep in mind, insulin lowers your blood sugar but it does not lower your calories. Also, if you are taking oral hypoglycemic agents that help to make your body more sensitive to insulin, recognize your pancreas is still working hard! The more weight you gain, the more muscle you lose, and the more resistant the body becomes to insulin. You must change the way you eat and start moving.

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Myth: If you have prediabetes, you will most certainly develop diabetes.

Real Deal: You can reverse insulin resistance and prevent diabetes through diet and lifestyle activities such as exercising for 90 to 150 minutes a week.

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Myth: If I can't lose 50 pounds, I might as well give up. I am destined to have diabetes just like my father.

Real Deal: Losing just 7 percent of your current body weight decreases your risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent. Set small achievable goals!

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Diet Food

Myth: It's better to eat diet food like diet soda and diet bread.

Real Deal: Diet soda and diet foods confuse the body and our hunger fullness signal. Instead, eat the real thing and just adhere to your allotted carbohydrates.

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Artificial Sweeteners

Myth: If you have diabetes, you should use an artificial sweetener.

Real Deal: Say no to artificial sugars. They upset your stomach and make you crave more sugar! How could that be helpful? It's not!

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