Why Does Mouthwash Burn? Only 1 Reason

Learn From Doctor Team
Learn From Doctor Team is made up of well-qualified doctors of different fields with brilliant academic results and professional careers. The article is written and reviewed by doctors of this specialty.

Why Does Mouthwash Burn?

Mouthwash is quite necessary to prevent mouth cavity and dental infections. Usually, the doctor recommends a mouthwash after dental treatment.  

Mouthwash is used for oral rinsing. That cleans your mouth and the spaces between your teeth. In addition, mouthwash prevents infections by killing bacterias.

Feeling a tingling sensation while using mouthwash is common. However, the mouthwash brands advertise that it’s proof that their product is working. 

Some of us may feel an extreme burning sensation while using mouthwash. 

It’s quite scary to feel a burning sensation or pain while using mouthwash.  

So, is it normal? Is the pain is a sign of a wound or infection? What’s the reason behind this burning sensation? 

We’ve answered each question of yours in this article.


Types of Mouthwash

There are two main types of mouthwash. 

Cosmetic Mouthwashes

This kind of mouthwash reduces bad breath and lets you feel a sweet taste. However, it does not kill the bacterias or bad breath-associated micro-organisms. 

It does not contain any chemicals that can eliminate bacteria and provide you proper oral protection. 

It just helps to get rid of halitosis and remove the stuck food debris stuck between your teeth. 

However, It helps to prevent tooth decay, but it’s temporary. 

Read Oral Gonorrhea vs Strep Throat

Therapeutic Mouthwash

Therapeutic mouthwash can be found over the counter as well as in prescription. 

It contains certain chemicals that help to prevent micro-organisms, kill bacterias, controls plaque formation, prevent bad breath and tooth decay. 

therapeutic mouthwashes are prescribed by the doctors
therapeutic mouthwashes are prescribed by the doctors

The therapeutic mouth can be classified according to its principal action;

  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-plaque
  • Anti gingivitis
  • Anticavity

Most of the therapeutic mouthwashes can be found over the counter. However, some of them are specific and contain certain chemicals that need a prescription. 

Specially antibacterial mouthwashes need a prescription. 

These types of mouthwashes are used to treat different dental conditions such as gingivitis. 

Read Gum Graft Surgery | Dental Surgery

What Causes Mouthwash Burn?

One or more ingredients of the mouthwash can cause a burning sensation. 

The main ingredients that cause burning sensation include;


Alcohol is a common and essential component of a mouthwash. Alcohol can kill bacteria. That’s why we use 70% alcohol in our hand sanitizers. 

The mouthwashes do not contain high concentration alcohol, so that alcohol cannot kill bacterias. Rather the alcohol used in a mouthwash carries the ingredients. 

Alcohol has a dryness effect that may cause irritation and burning sensation. 

Alcohol itself causes a burning sensation if it’s used in higher concentrations (more than 18-26% v/v) in the cheeks, gums, and teeth. 


Menthol is a common cosmetic ingredient. It’s used in toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, face wash, and almost every cleaning product. 

Menthol is naturally extracted from peppermint. 

menthol is an ingredient of mouthwash for reducing bad breath
menthol is an ingredient of mouthwash for reducing bad breath

It provides a minty flavor and cold sensation and removes the bad smell from your mouth. 

If your mouthwash contains a high level of menthol, that may cause a little burning sensation. 

Menthol can eliminate bacteria and stop their growth if used in high concentrations. That’s why in some mouthwash, it’s used in a high concentration. 

Other Causes of Mouthwash Burn

If someone consistently uses mouthwash for a longer period, that may cause skin irritation and damage. 

Even if you use a mouthwash that doesn’t contain alcohol or menthol, it can still burn due to other ingredients. 

Chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride is used in most therapeutic mouthwashes. They help to reduce plaques, gingivitis and kills the bacterias causing halitosis (bad breath).

The FDA (The Food and Drug Administration) confirmed that some allergic people might feel a burning sensation from Chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride. 

Mouthwash often contains teeth whitening ingredients such as hydrogen peroxide, Eucalyptus oil, thyme oil, and Essential oils (peppermint oil). If you are sensitive to these ingredients, then you may feel a burning sensation. 

Talk to your doctor about mouthwash, and your doctor will prescribe you the best one according to your condition. 

Do All Mouthwash Burn?

No, all mouthwashes do not burn. 

The burning sensation is caused by one or more of the ingredient’s sensitivity; you have to choose one mouthwash that doesn’t contain anything sensitive to you. 

Alcohol is quite essential for its bacteria-killing property. But some mouthwashes do not contain it—especially those which are prepared for sensitive people.  

mouthwash cause burning sensation due to alcohol
mouthwash cause burning sensation due to alcohol

Alcohol-free mouthwashes are more gentle, and they also won’t cause dryness of your mouth. 

Menthol is mainly used to provide a mint feel and reduce bad breath. If you experienced a burning sensation in your mouth because of menthol, you could avoid it. 

Buy alcohol and menthol-free mouthwash if you find these ingredients sensitive. 

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How To Know If Alcohol is Causing The Mouthwash Burn?

While rinsing your mouth, if you feel a burning sensation on your tongue, the alcohol is the culprit. 

Our test buds are located in those areas of the tongue. Therefore, they are more sensitive to alcohol. 

You may also taste the alcohol if you are more sensitive to it. 

Benefits of Mouthwash

Mouthwash is a recommended product after a dental or oral procedure. It’s useful to prevent bad breath and bacterial infections. Cosmetic or therapeutic both are useful.

The benefits of mouthwash include;

  • Mouthwash contains ingredients that help to whiten your teeth. These ingredients are known as bleaching or whitening agents such as hydrogen peroxide, activated charcoal, etc. 
  • Mouthwash prevents tooth decay. It contains ingredients such as fluorides that prevent cavities and ensure the protection of teeth enamel. 
  • Mouthwashes are used as a treatment of gingivitis, plaques, etc. Early gum conditions can be treated with therapeutic mouthwashes that contain menthol, thymol, etc. 
  • Mouthwashes reduce the bad breath by eliminating the halitosis-causing bacteria. Menthol is widely used for reducing bad breath, though its alternatives are available. 

After dental surgery, the dentists usually prescribe a mouthwash to prevent infections. Mouthwashes ensure protection and enhance recovery. 

Different mouthwashes are prescribed for different types of conditions. For example, some mouthwashes are specially made to prevent dry sockets after tooth extraction. Some are to prevent gum recession. 

Precautions of Using Mouthwash

You have to follow the instructions of your doctor and the instruction manual provided with the packaging of the mouthwash. 

It would help if you did not swallow your mouthwash after rinsing. If you swallow two servings of mouthwash at one time, then you should call a medical emergency for poisoning.

If the mouthwash causes a burning sensation or allergic reaction, you should avoid that mouthwash. That can damage your tissues. 

The mouthwash contains chemicals to kill bacterias. If you feel anything unusual such as pain, irritation, bleeding, then talk to your doctor. 

Mouthwash For Children

Children between 0-6 are prohibited from using any mouthwash. 

Children between 6-12 can use mouthwash specifically made for them and recommended by the doctor. 

Mouthwash Burn Summary

Ingredients that cause mouth burn are usually alcohol and menthol. Some other antibacterial ingredients may also cause a burning sensation. 

Talk to your doctor for a recommendation. 

If you feel anything unusual while using a mouthwash, stop using it and report to your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why does mouthwash burn my tongue?

Alcohol-based mouthwash causes a burning sensation in the tongue because taste buds are located there. Test buds are more sensitive.

Why does mouthwash burn so bad?

If you are sensitive to any of the mouthwash ingredients, it may burn. If you have any injury or damage inside your mouth, alcohol-based mouthwash would cause more burning sensations.

Last Updated on February 23, 2023 by Learn From Doctor Team

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