Why Does Mouthwash Burn?

You’ve taken a swig of mouthwash to cleanse your mouth and sanitize it, but that first taste can be pretty irritating. The burning sensation is too much. You wonder what causes that sensation and if the mouthwash really does what it says it will do.

A good mouthwash doesn’t have to contain alcohol to be effective. When a mouthwash burns, you might want to investigate alternative products.

Why Does Mouthwash Burn?

Mouthwash Burn

The alcohol that’s in most mouth wash products causes the burning sensation. It burns around the area of the tongue, and the taste buds in the tongue are susceptible to the effects of alcohol.

Alcohol affects your taste and the feeling it gives to the tongue more than other areas of the mouth. It is one of the key ingredients in many mouthwash formulations. We know that some mouthwashes contain at least 25 percent alcohol, which can damage to the mouth.

Yes, alcohol is an antiseptic and will kill the bacteria in your mouth and create a clean environment, but the alcohol by itself does not get rid of the bacteria that causes gum disorders and bad breath.

So, What Causes the Burning?

We know that different types of mouthwash use alcohol (ethanol) in their formulations because it rids the mouth of germs and bacteria. It can burn and cause damage to the mouth. Honesty, I can feel the burn myself with most mouthwashes.

Mouthwashes with alcohol can also cause dry mouth as it cuts off saliva production. We all know what that can do. Saliva production is important to oral health as it does important things, like the following:

  • Destroys bacteria
  • Controls plaque
  • Combats bad breath
  • Strengthens teeth

Why Does Mouthwash Burn?

Besides Burning

Besides a burning sensation, alcohol based mouthwash gets rid of most of the bad and good bacteria in your mouth. You can experience an imbalance in your mouth and subsequent bad breath.

Though mouthwash that is alcohol-free may not completely clean your mouth, it focuses on getting rid of bad bacteria as opposed to the good bacteria. So, if you have dry mouth symptoms and low saliva flow, you may want to switch to alcohol-free products.

It’s obvious that mouthwash products that contain a significant degree of alcohol can actually lead to some oral health issues if used too often or for a long period of time.

Other Ingredients

There are other ingredients in mouthwash besides alcohol that can cause burning sensations. Essential oils that many consider breath fresheners such as thyme, peppermint, wintergreen and eucalyptus could trigger reactions and burning sensitivities.

When mouthwash has a definite and strong flavor to it, the concentration of these essential oils is high and can bring on that burning feeling.

In addition, ingredients like chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride fight bad breath, plaque and gum inflammation (gingivitis) but they may also cause reactions.

Why Does Mouthwash Burn?

Other Reasons for Burning Sensation

Even when a mouthwash lacks alcohol, you can still experience that burning feeling. Any of the ingredients within it can cause the sensation. Some people have sensitivities to menthol, which is a derivative of mint and peppermint.

You may experience burning rather than a pleasant and fresh taste when using mouthwash products that contain menthol.

You can even feel the burn and dry mouth with products that contain hydrogen peroxide that lightens the teeth.

Is Alcohol a Necessary Ingredient?

Not all mouthwashes cause burning, but your level of sensitivity to different ingredients might make it difficult to find one that doesn’t cause any burning symptoms. I know as I continue my search for a satisfactory one.

Alcohol isn’t an essential ingredient in mouthwash just because it kills bacteria. We’ve seen enough mouthwashes that are gentle on the mouth and gums, and there are top brands with formulations that are free of alcohol and kill bacteria.

Menthol is another ingredient in mouthwash that isn’t needed. We see alternatives in mint and menthol free and even flavorless versions that are available in stores where mouthwash is sold. You can derive benefits without added alcohol.

Different Mouthwash Benefits

There are benefits to the right mouthwash that include:

  • Whitening teeth through ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, coconut toil or activated charcoal.
  • Enhancing and strengthening teeth.
  • Deterring cavities through inclusion of fluoride.
  • Fighting gum diseases through formulations that contain menthol, eucalyptol, or thymol.
  • Getting rid of bad breath.
  • Helping with dry socket that follows tooth extractions.
  • Improving oral care after oral cancer treatments.
  • Stimulating saliva production with dry mouth symptoms.

Choosing the Right Mouthwash

Using any mouthwash can be an important part of your oral care, but it doesn’t have to contain alcohol that causes burning and is harmful to your mouth. You want to select the best kind of mouthwash to use in your daily oral hygiene program.

Choosing a mouthwash and using it simply won’t do the job. We all know you need effective brushing and flossing to get the best results. Talk with your dentist and ask for alcohol free mouthwash recommendations that will go along with an oral program that satisfies your needs and situation.

If you want to improve your oral health, make an informed choice for an alcohol free mouthwash. Your mouth will thank you for it.