Mouthwash is an ordinary dental hygiene product people use for various reasons. When used as directed, mouthwash can help control certain dental conditions, support strong and healthy teeth and gums, and help to freshen breath. But one thing people worry about is what happens if you swallow mouthwash.

Is Mouthwash Safe?

Mouthwashes are all formulated differently depending on their specific use. Typically, they will contain various chemicals and ingredients designed to fight multiple dental issues such as halitosis, teeth whitening, plaque removal, and gingivitis. 

The types of active ingredients you can expect to find in mouthwash include the following:

  • Chlorhexidine
  • Fluoride
  • Peroxide
  • Essential Oils
  • Cetylpyridinium chloride
  • Alcohol

The FDA regulates manufacturers as mouthwash is an over-the-counter drug product.


What Happens If You Swallow Mouthwash

Most people will swallow residual amounts of mouthwash when rinsing their mouth after brushing. This is perfectly normal, and the amount consumed is unlikely to affect your health adversely. Mouthwash has many active ingredients to allow it to clean and carry out the functions it is designed to do. That being said, the active ingredients in mouthwash are formulated at safe levels for use as directed. If mouthwash isn’t used correctly, i.e., to rinse out the mouth and is swallowed especially in large quantities, then you may experience side effects. Many of the side effects will be from the alcohol used in mouthwash resulting in intoxication.


What Should You Do If You Swallow Mouthwash?

In the first instance, do not panic or induce vomiting. If you accidentally swallowed the amount you were rinsing your mouth out with, it’s unlikely to impact your health. Rinse your mouth with water or drink milk if you are overly concerned. Milk can help to dilute the chemicals in the mouthwash. In some cases, depending on the ingredients and strength of the mouthwash, you might feel a slight irritation of the throat or some nausea or diarrhea and these will likely pass quickly. If you start to feel unwell, note the brand and how much you have swallowed and get medical treatment.


What Is A Mouthwash Overdose?

A mouthwash overdose is categorized as when a person has ingested a quantity of mouthwash mobile standard usage limits. For example, swilling a capful in your mouth and accidentally swallowing isn’t considered an overdose. Drinking more than capful on purpose (or children accidentally drinking from the bottle) is considered an overdose. It is worth bearing in mind that adults are more likely to tolerate higher quantities of mouthwash in their bodies than children and may not see side effects as potent as children. A mouthwash overdose can include but not be limited to slurred or slowed speech, increased heart rate or palpitations, multi-organ failure, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty breathing.


When to Get Medical Treatment for Swallowing Mouthwash

If you suspect you have swallowed potentially toxic amounts of mouthwash or someone else has. It is important not to panic. First, rinse your mouth and check the bottle to know how much has been swallowed. Small amounts are unlikely to have any effect. Call the Poison Control Center hotline for more significant amounts, or if a child has swallowed mouthwash, you will need the exact type of mouthwash consumed and possible quantity. They can talk you through what happens next. If you or another adult has swallowed large amounts of mouthwash, you can either wait and see the approach, call the Poison Control Hotline or your dentist, or head to the emergency room. Under no circumstances should you induce vomiting, even if you experience symptoms.