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How Do I Choose a Safe Mouthwash?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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As long as you don't purposefully swallow mouthwash, you are unlikely to take on much risk with using it, regardless of the type. The mouthwashes for sale in stores and online have usually been tested and deemed safe for rinsing the mouth. In fact, the amount of mouthwash you might accidentally swallow when rinsing your mouth is unlikely to cause a medical problem. Still, you might consider selecting a mouthwash that has childproof packaging, which prevents children from drinking mouthwash and poisoning themselves. You could also consider an alcohol-free type if you have sensitive teeth or sores in your mouth, or if you are concerned about the presence of dyes and chemicals.

Most people consider alcohol content when trying to choose a safe mouthwash. Many mouthwashes contain a type of alcohol called ethanol, which has been associated with health risks. Some experts assert that mouthwash that contains alcohol may increase a person's risk of cancer of the mouth and throat. This is not proven, however, and many oral health authorities maintain that alcohol-containing mouthwash does not increase cancer risk when it is used as intended. If the idea of alcohol in your mouthwash worries you, however, you can choose an alcohol-free variety instead.

You might also prefer a safe mouthwash without alcohol if you have sensitive areas in your mouth. An alcohol-containing mouthwash may cause burning and other discomfort if you are dealing with sensitive teeth and gums. Likewise, this type of oral-care product can cause discomfort if you have sores in your mouth. Although the discomfort is unlikely to last, you may feel more comfortable choosing an alcoholic-free option.

When you want to choose a safe mouthwash, you can also consider the cap on the bottle. If you have children or have child visitors, you may do well to select mouthwash that includes a child-safety cap. These caps are difficult for children to open, which can protect them from the accidental consumption of too much mouthwash. If a child drinks mouthwash rather that rinsing with it, the ethanol or other chemicals in the mouthwash can act as a poison, and a call to a poison control center or a visit to an emergency room may be in order.

A safe mouthwash may contain ingredients about which you feel unsure, such as artificial flavors, colorings, and various chemicals. Some people are uncomfortable with putting chemicals in their bodies, even if they do not intend to consume the product in question. If you feel concerned about the chemicals in mouthwash, you may find an all-natural version a better option.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon953012 — On May 23, 2014

Phenolalanine is a dangerous sugar substitute found in most mouthwashes and many toothpastes. You absorb chemicals through the gums because they are mucous membranes. No mention in this article about this. Like most gum chewers, you are not aware of your own daily poisoning habits. They secretly put fake sugar in all mainstream sugared gum. Read the labels!

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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