Typically, mouthwash is marketed as a quick and easy oral hygiene product:

Swish for about 30 seconds, and then rinse with water.

The burning and tingling sensation in your mouth indicates that the mouthwash is working. And you feel a great sense of accomplishment when you spit out the residue, thinking that you have cleansed your mouth thoroughly。

However, like many toiletries that we use every day, there are still some mysteries that remain unanswered about this product: why does mouthwash cause a burning sensation? can I drink mouthwash? Can I just use mouthwash every day to replace brushing my teeth?

As a doctor who is passionate about solving your daily life doubts, helping you is exactly one of the main reasons why Chunyu Doctor exists.

Why does mouthwash lead to a burning sensation?

Because of the alcohol in it.

Some mouthwashes have essential oils as their active ingredients. Certain substances in essential oils, such as menthol, are not soluble in water. Therefore, alcohol is usually used as the main solvent. The alcohol doesn’t damage the ingredients and efficacy of the mouthwash. In fact, it does a great job, but it will irritate the delicate oral mucosa.

So you know what I mean.

Some people believe that the stronger the burning sensation is, the better the mouthwash. Of course, that’s not true!

The “hotter the mouthwash, the better” mindset is similar to assuming that pain leads to growth, but this is not applicable to mouthwash.

The American Dental Association (ADA) clearly states that alcohol can evaporate saliva to some extent. Over time, a lack of saliva will increase the risk of caries. Therefore, if you decide to use mouthwash, you can consider using the alcohol-free products.


Can I drink mouthwash?

This isn’t a joke. Many people in the US with alcoholism problems use mouthwash because of the alcohol in it.

But the fact that mouthwash contains alcohol is not the reason why you should not drink it.

Chlorhexidine gluconate, methyl salicylate, or hydrogen peroxide — some of the ingredients in mouthwash — have all been proven to cause adverse reactions. It’s OK to swallow a little mouthwash as you rinse it around your mouth, but excessive intake (two or more capfuls at a time) may cause stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and even fainting. Several other ingredients may lead to similar problems.

Can I skip brushing my teeth and just use mouthwash?


The main culprit damaging teeth, dental plaque, can only be removed by mechanical friction. Toothbrushes and floss are irreplaceable.

Although using mouthwash after meals can help it reach deep into the gums, it doesn’t stay long enough to be effective.

As for the dirty residue produced after rinsing with mouthwash, one type is food stuck on the teeth after meals. This can be removed by rinsing with water. The “flocculent substance” (such as in some celebrity-endorsed mouthwashes) is formed when proteins denature after coming into contact with acid. The proteins may originate from bacteria or saliva. This substance has little to do with food waste and debris.

Vinegar in milk can also produce similar flocculent substance.

Can mouthwash cause cancer?

Excessive drinking and chewing betel nuts are both known risk factors for oral cancer. To some extent, it seems reasonable to infer that alcohol also increases the risk of cancer. But this has been a subject of debate all the time in academia. The conclusions of current studies vary and sometimes even offer contradictory results. The average amount of mouthwash that people use every time they rinse is fairly small and doesn’t stay around for long., Besides, there is far less alcohol in mouthwash than in substances like betel nuts. If you are still worried, you may choose to use alcohol-free mouthwash.

How to choose a mouthwash?

The ADA divides mouthwashes into two categories: cosmetic mouthwashes and therapeutic mouthwashes.

Cosmetic mouthwashes are available on the market. They can control the number of bacteria in the mouth and modestly freshen breath.



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