Is mouthwash bad?
Mouthwash, also called “oral rinse” or “mouth rinse,” typically contains antibacterial ingredients to clean between your teeth, as well as other ingredients that give it a flavor. Some types of mouthwash contain alcohol as an inactive ingredient, while others are alcohol-free.
For some people, mouthwash can have some unpleasant side effects. These side effects may outweigh the benefits of using an over-the-counter oral rinse as part of your everyday routine. Other people have expressed concerns over some of the chemical dyes and flavors in certain brands of mouthwash.
That being said, mouthwash isn’t bad for you, per se. Let’s take a look at the side effects of mouthwash and what you should know about using it safely.
Side effects of alcohol-based mouthwash
Alcohol is used as a preservative ingredient and as a carrier for the other active ingredients in mouthwash, not as an antiseptic ingredient.
Not every person will experience all of the following side effects of mouthwash, and certain formulas are more likely to cause more or fewer side effects.
May cause or irritate canker sores
An ingredient called sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is used in some toothpaste and oral rinses to create a “foaming” action in your mouth.
If you’re prone to developing canker sores, using a mouth rinse (or any oral product) that contains SLS might cause an outbreak of sores or make them worse. People who are currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment may also find that to be the case.
If you don’t have these sensitivities or concerns, it’s likely that you won’t experience this side effect.
May cause dry mouth
Xerostomia, also known as dry mouth, refers to a condition where your salivary glands don’t produce enough saliva to keep your tongue lubricated and to help prevent cavities.
An oral rinse that contains fluoride may actually be recommended if you have dry mouth, according to the American Dental Association. However, a mouthwash that contains alcohol may actually make symptoms of dry mouth worse.
May cause burning or pain when you use it
Some people enjoy the feeling of a tingling sensation when they use mouthwash that contains alcohol. But for others, the feeling can be more like a burning pain.
Some mouthwashes contain up to 25 percent alcohol, which makes this sensation more powerful.
Side effects of mouthwash without alcohol
Some side effects of mouthwash aren’t related to whether there is alcohol in the formula.
May remove your healthy oral microbiome
Any type of mouthwash, whether alcohol-free or containing alcohol, may kill off a high number of bacteria in your mouth.
Some bacteria in your mouth can lead to cavities and bad breath, but other bacteria are actually part of what’s called your oral microbiome, which helps break down your food and maintains healthy teeth and gums.
Killing off all of the bacteria in your mouth on a regular basis isn’t recommended, so gentler antiseptic formulas can be a healthier choice.
May cause teeth staining
The most common side effect of using mouthwash, according to a review Trusted Source published in 2019, was teeth staining.