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Why does mouth wash burn?

May 29, 2023Oral health

Why does mouth wash burn?

Most commercial mouthwashes contain alcohol, which acts as a sterilizing agent and can eliminate harmful or odour-causing bacteria. However, care must be taken to avoid excessive ingestion of these products, as the alcohol content may lead to adverse effects.

Many brands of mouthwash may claim that the burning sensation is indicative of their product’s ability to kill germs, but this is not necessarily accurate. Generally speaking, over-the-counter mouthwashes do not provide a sufficient level of bacteria elimination to be considered therapeutically beneficial.

Effective mouthwashes can be useful when used in addition to regular brushing and flossing, as they may help to reduce bad breath between brushings. However, it is important to remember that mouthwashes are not intended as replacements for an oral care routine. Even therapeutic varieties of mouthwash should be used to supplement, rather than replace, comprehensive oral hygiene habits.

It is possible that there are a few reasons why your mouthwash may cause a burning sensation. Possible causes could include:

  • Mint flavoring: Menthol is a chemical compound that can produce a burning sensation when ingested. Mint gum or mouthwash are two common ways to help mask bad breath, and may also result in this burning sensation.
  • Dental health problems: If you have sensitivity in your teeth or suffer from conditions such as ulcers, cold sores, gingivitis, plaque or abrasion caused by brushing or flossing too hard, it is best to avoid mouthwash with alcohol as it may cause a burning or hurting sensation. Similarly, foods that are hot, cold or sugary might also trigger discomfort in specific areas of the mouth.
  • Chlorhexidine: Chlorhexidine is a commonly used ingredient in mouthwash, as it aids in the reduction of plaque and in the prevention of gingivitis. However, those with allergies to chlorhexidine may experience discomfort, such as burning or tingling sensations in the mouth.


Is Mouthwash Supposed To Burn?

It is possible that certain ingredients could be responsible for the burning sensation that you are experiencing. Since individuals can react differently to different substances, it is possible that you may be sensitive to one, all, or none of the following:


Mouthwash products often contain ethanol as an effective ingredient to eliminate germs and bacteria. However, the use of alcohol can cause a burning sensation in the mouth, which may worsen over time and lead to mouth sores. Furthermore, the presence of alcohol can result in dry mouth. Saliva plays an integral role in overall oral health, as it helps to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth, control plaque buildup, combat bad breath and strengthen teeth. However, regular use of alcohol-based mouthwashes may lead to detrimental effects on oral health if utilized excessively or for extended periods.

Essential Oils

The presence of a wintergreen, eucalyptus or menthol flavor when rinsing with mouthwash likely originates from essential oils. If the taste is very powerful, it could imply an elevated concentration of essential oils, resulting in increased burning sensation.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide (HP) is sometimes used instead of alcohol as an ingredient in mouthwashes due to its mild antiseptic properties and reputation for having healing effects. However, it should be noted that HP can cause irritation for some people. Experts have raised concerns regarding the potential for overuse of a certain ingredient in mouthwash to cause damage to teeth and gum tissue, therefore caution is advised when selecting a mouthwash containing this ingredient.


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