Why Mouthwash Burns: A Complete Guide Explaining The Reasons

Mouthwash forms an extremely important part of our daily oral health and hygiene. For those who struggle with perpetual bad breath, we can understand that not using mouthwash for your morning dental care routine might seem preposterous. However, with its benefits, instances of mouthwash burns are not uncommon to observe.

Actually, it can be it quite interesting to understand why mouthwash burns?

Over the past few decades, the emergence of several brands for different dental tools has made its place in the mainstream.

Also, these brands put out products to help with specific dental problems like teeth sensitivity, bad breath, yellow teeth, gum disease like gingivitis, or claim to have anti-plaque properties and improve dental health.

It is easy to pick a floss, toothbrush, and toothpaste brand that suits your needs. But when it comes to choosing the right mouthwash, that is where things can get a little trickier. Why mouthwash burns for you are also dependent on the type or the brand you use.

With so many options and types available in the market, to understand why mouthwash burns, it is important to acknowledge some basic reasons and identify the flaws that you might have been following in your dental routine. Stick to the end of the article to understand it in detail.

A. What is mouthwash?

Mouthwash is a chemical liquid that is used for rinsing out your mouth. It kills the bacteria in the mouth and prevents tooth decay, and fights plaque and germs. Overall, it helps in maintaining oral hygiene and protects your teeth and gums.

It is important to acknowledge here that mouthwash with alcohol might cause dry mouth and the alcohol can even damage the hardness and gloss of your teeth in the long run. It is also one of the potent reasons why mouthwash burns.

Now that the basic is out of the way, let us have a closer look at the different things associated with their use and why mouthwash burns.

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Photo by Bart Everson on Flickr

B. Different types of mouthwash

Mouthwash can be broadly categorized into two types- cosmetic and therapeutic1.

Cosmetic mouthwashes lead to temporary benefits. They freshen your breath for a while and give it a transitory good smell. However, it does not kill the bacteria that is causing the bad breath in your mouth and neither does it fight potential teeth and gum diseases.

On the flip side, therapeutic mouthwashes give lasting effects because they act on the cause of the problem and the causative bacterias. They kill the microbes and also help you fight plaque and diseases like gingivitis. The fluoride content in mouthwash helps with reducing the risk of tooth decay and can even aid in teeth whitening.

C. What is the correct way to use mouthwash?

1. Will only mouthwash suffice?

Most people often confuse mouthwash as a substitute for brushing and flossing their teeth. As much as we hate to break it to you, mouthwash, alcohol, or no alcohol, cannot replace brushing and will jeopardize your oral health in the long run. In fact, using too much of it can also be a reason why mouthwash 2burns in your mouth.

Using mouthwash in the place of brushing or flossing will not help in maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. The perfect routine comprises rinsing your mouth with a mouthwash after properly brushing and flossing your teeth.

2. Water and dilution

Another very important thing to keep in mind is that you should not drink water or rinse your mouth after just using a mouthwash. This will erode away the effect that the mouthwash was supposed to have on your mouth.

Also, you should carefully read the label to see if it suggests diluting the mouthwash before use as some mouthwashes contain very concentrated volumes of certain substances.

Spit it out, please

Never try to swallow mouthwash. After swishing it thoroughly through your mouth, spit it out without any second thoughts. And do not keep the mouthwash in your mouth for longer than 30 seconds.

D. Who should use mouthwash?

It is generally not recommended for children under the age of 6 to use mouthwashes. However, cases might arise where they have to. In those circumstances, parents should keep very close supervision as they are vulnerable when it comes to swallowing the mouthwash.

Even for children up to the age of 12 years, adult supervision is recommended when the child is using mouthwash.

Why mouthwash burns?

Now coming to the real question, why mouthwash burns?

The first thing you need to know is that the burn is not always a cause for concern. In fact, it usually might be a sign of the fact that the mouthwash is working for you pretty well. However, it still can become a reason to call up your dentist and make an appointment. They will help in answering the question of why mouthwash burns for you medically.

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Photo by thedabblist on Flickr

• The active ingredients

An oral rinse constitutes a lot of active ingredients. It contains anti-bacterial chemicals like cetylpyridinium chloride, and essential oils like eucalyptus, thyme, or along with water, and menthol.

Some mouthwashes also contain hydrogen peroxide which helps in whitening your teeth and some even contain alcohol.

• Why do they cause a burning sensation?

The thing about these ingredients is that they are very strong, especially, essential oils and menthol, since they help to freshen your breath. Some also contain alcohol which may cause a burning sensation too.

The painful burning sensation you get after rinsing from an oral wash is most likely because of the ingredients used in your oral rinse.

But it does not mean the burning sensation is only caused by the ingredients and does not point to an underlying problem?

If your mouth is overly-sensitive to mouthwash and even after changing the brand and type of the mouthwash, oral rinses remain painful all the time, then it might be an indication of underlying tissue breakdown and subsequent formation of mouth ulcers.

If you feel like the burning sensation is a little too much for you to handle, then immediately put a stop to the use of that oral rinse. Contact your dentist immediately and have a thorough checkup.

Now there you go, hopefully, our article was able to shed some light on why mouthwash burns. Sometimes it can be for the ingredients and sometimes it is an indication of an underlying ailment. If it is for the former, search for mouthwashes with the ingredients that suit you the best. But if the burning sensation still persists, consult a dentist immediately.

  1. Majumder, Joydeb, and Tamara Minko. “Recent developments on therapeutic and diagnostic approaches for COVID-19.” The AAPS journal 23 (2021): 1-22. ↩︎
  2. Bescos, Raul, et al. “Effects of Chlorhexidine mouthwash on the oral microbiome.” Scientific reports 10.1 (2020): 5254. ↩︎

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Gauri Singh

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