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Is Mouthwash Supposed to Burn? | A Full Guide to Prevention of This Unpleasant Sensation

Are you experiencing a painful burning sensation when using a mouthwash and wonder what you are doing wrong? No need to worry; adding a mouthwash to your routine oral hygiene is an excellent move. 

Most mouthwashes are formulated to fight plaque bacteria and kill bad breath. Ingredients capable of fighting germs and bacteria are used in the formulation process. If not used in moderation, these ingredients cause a sensation.  

two glasses with blue mouthwash


Dr. Brite
has a wide range of mouthwashes that don’t have a burning pain. We take pride in ensuring we put a smile on people without the worry of harmful ingredients. Our ingredients are carefully selected and are plant based ensuring your safety. 

So, why does mouthwash burn? What other alternative solutions are there? And is it essential to make the rinse part of your daily oral routine? Let's find out. 

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What Is Mouthwash?

A mouthwash, also known as an oral rinse, is a liquid product used to rinse the mouth, targeting the teeth, gums, and tongue. Mouthwash - see mouthwash for smokers - is usually made of antiseptic that kills bacteria and germs that cause bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. But is mouthwash supposed to burn, or are the antiseptics the leading cause? Let's first learn more.

a woman holding a bottle of mouthwash


The two types of mouthwashes include; cosmetic and therapeutic mouthwashes. 

Cosmetic Mouthwash

Cosmetic mouthwash provides a temporary benefit, leaving behind a pleasant taste. These types of mouthwashes have no chemicals that aid in killing bacteria hence the name cosmetic. 

Therapeutic Mouthwash 

Therapeutic mouthwashes help reduce gingivitis, bad breath, tooth decay, and plaque. Therapeutic mouthwashes are named according to their focus and strength. 

For instance, those formulated to curegingivitis are anti-gingivitis, while those focusing on cavities are called anti-cavity. Although therapeutic mouthwashes are sold over the counter, some may require a prescription due to their sensitive ingredients (see also mouthwashes that provide sensitivity relief).

blue mouthwash in a glass, a toothbrush and a toothpaste

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What Causes Mouthwash to Burn?

Ideally, mouthwashes are not supposed to burn. But, the ingredients used are the culprits that cause a burning sensation. Here are some of the causes:

Alcohol

Alcohol is the common ingredient in commercial rinses. It can kill germs that cause gingivitis, tooth decay, and plaque. Mouthwashes do not rely on alcohol to kill germs; instead, alcohol facilitates other ingredients.

But when used in large amounts, alcohol causes a burning sensation. Some rinses contain high levels of alcohol that range from 20 to 30 percent. Alcohol also causes the mouth to dry. A dry mouth is prone to bruises, and the chances rise with alcohol since it causes irritation. 

The good news is that you can findalcohol-free mouthwashes in the market that leave your mouth rehydrated and feeling fresh. 

Menthol

Methanol, too, is a common ingredient in commercial rinse and toothpaste. It has antimicrobial properties that kill germs and bacteria to inhibit their growth. Methanol is derived from peppermint in most instances, which explains the strong minty flavor. If not used in moderation, methanol causes a tingly and burning sensation. 

If a mint-flavored mouthwash is what your family loves, consider choosing rinses with well-controlled ingredients. There aremint flavored rinses that will leave your mouth feeling fresh, minty, and sweet.  

Chlorhexidine

Chlorhexidine is another common ingredient in mouthwashes. Chlorhexidine has properties that help fight gum disease andplaque.Although chlorhexidine causes a burning sensation in rare cases, people who are allergic to the ingredient can experience a painful sensation. 

Dental Issues

If you are experiencing mouth ulcers or gum disease, you are likely to feel the burning sensation, primarily if you use alcohol-based rinses. Also, methanol and Chlorhexidine can irritate the wound, accelerating the pain. 

a woman holding a cup in her hand with mouthwash in her mouth


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What Should I Do if I Have a Burning Sensation?

If you experience a painful and burning sensation when using an oral rinse, here are the steps you should take:

  • Switch to alcohol-free mouthwash
  • Use rinses with low levels of methanol
  • Buy mouthwash with mild mint flavors
  • Avoid mouthwashes with chlorhexidine if you are allergic
  • Get to the root cause if you have mouth ulcers and gum disease
  • Practice good oral hygiene 
  • If the symptom persists, seek medical help 

towels, toothbrushes and mouthwash

How Should I Use a Mouthwash?

Although it is essential to follow the packaging instructions when using a mouthwash, here is a simple guide you can follow

Brush and Floss Your Teeth

Before you use a mouthwash, you should first brush and floss. When brushing, it is vital to choose the right toothpaste. Toothpaste prevents plaque, bad breath, and gingivitis. 

Hydroxyapatite toothpaste is ideal as it promotes remineralization. Hydroxyapatite makes the teeth hard and strong. Its absence contributes to enamel erosion, giving way to the cavity. So, using hydroxyapatite toothpaste helps enhance the naturally occurring minerals giving the teeth more protection. 

Flossing is equally important as it helps eliminate bacteria hiding between the teeth. Although brushing and flossing are vital oral hygiene practices, not all bacteria and germs are eliminated. 

a couple brushing and flossing in front of the mirror


Measure the Right Mouthwash to Use

Pour your preferred mouthwash into a measuring cup. Always follow the manufacturer's guidelines for better results. Most oral rinses require using 3-5 teaspoons of mouthwash each time. 

Start Rinsing 

Empty the cup into your mouth and swish the rinse vigorously while keeping your mouth closed or as directed on the label. Also, gargle the rinse for 30 seconds. You can set a watch or count in your head. 

Spit

Do not swallow the rinse, primarily if you use a fluoride mouthwash. If ingested in large amounts, fluoride can be toxic. Alternatively, you can switch to mouthwashes that are made of natural ingredients. These mouthwashes are ideal, especially for children. 

Wait

To get the most out of the mouthwash, wait for at least 30 minutes before eating or drinking. Adequate time gives the ingredients time to kill and eliminate germs and bacteria. 

a man pouring green mouthwash from the bottle

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What Are the Benefits of Using Mouthwash?

One of the most overlooked oral hygiene practices is mouthwash. People usually think brushing and flossing are enough to guarantee good oral hygiene. Here are some of the benefits of using mouthwash they miss. 

  1. Whitens the teeth

Most mouthwashes have hydrogen peroxide, an ideal ingredient for teeth whitening. Similarly,mouthwashes with activated charcoal are also suitable for teeth whitening.

  • Strengthens teeth enamels
  •  Mouthwashes also have ingredients that help strengthen tooth enamel. Well-built tooth enamel protects the teeth from erosion and cavities and keeps the teeth hard and strong. 

  • Fights gum disease
  • Antibacterial mouthwashes are formulated with essential oils that fight bacteria causing gum problems, plaque, and awful breath. 

  • Fight bad breath
  • Mouthwashes contain ingredients that fight bacteria that causehalitosis and bad breath.

    a woman with beautiful teeth using a mouthwash


    The Final Word

    The burning sensation after using mouthwash should not be why you abandon this vital oral hygiene practice. Instead, go for rinses with low levels of alcohol and methanol. The good thing is that you can find alcohol-free rinses in the market.

    Also, practicing good oral hygiene and using the right oral products can help cure oral problems that cause a burning sensation. Similarly, the correct use of rinses goes a long way in ensuring prolonged oral protection. 

    FAQs

    1. Does the burning of mouthwash mean its working?

    Many types of mouthwash claim that the sensation of tingling in the mouth indicates the product is working. Although you may use oral rinse solutions as instructed, you may still experience stinging and burning in your mouth. In most cases, this does not mean that you did something incorrectly or that you should cease using it.

    2. Is mouthwash supposed to burn a little?

    Fortunately, mouthwash doesn't have to be painful to use. Many brands now provide alcohol-free mouthwashes that include the same chemicals as regular mouthwashes, but without the burning feeling.

    3. Should I rinse after mouthwash?

    No. We strongly recommend that you avoid rinsing your mouth with water after using mouthwash since this will void any potential benefits it may have for your oral health. The idea is to ensure that you allow the product ample time to do its thing.

    4. Why do my gums burn when I use mouthwash?

    High quantities of alcohol can be found in some mouth rinses, ranging from 18 to 26%. Burning in the mouth, teeth and gums are possible side effects. Burning can also be caused by mouthwash use, which creates irritated mouth tissue and can lead to mouth sores if used too frequently.

    5. Should you mouthwash before or after brushing?

    There are no health benefits to using mouthwash before or after brushing, according to the American Dental Association. They are both effective. As long as you brush, floss, and rinse thoroughly and with quality products, it doesn't matter what order you do them in.