What Happens if You Drink Mouthwash? Effects & Dangers

Unveiling the hidden dangers: Discover the side effects of drinking mouthwash and the health risks you need to know.

What Happens if You Drink Mouthwash? Effects & Dangers

What Happens if You Drink Mouthwash? Effects & Dangers

Understanding the Risks

To fully comprehend the potential dangers associated with drinking mouthwash, it is crucial to delve into the topic. This section will explore the dangers of drinking mouthwash and shed light on why people may drink mouthwash.

The Dangers of Drinking Mouthwash

Mouthwash is primarily formulated for oral hygiene purposes, such as freshening breath and killing bacteria. However, many mouthwashes contain a significant amount of alcohol, which can be harmful when ingested. While the alcohol content in mouthwash can vary, it is typically higher than that found in alcoholic beverages.

Drinking mouthwash to get intoxicated is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening behavior. The high alcohol concentration can lead to serious health complications, including alcohol poisoning. Even small amounts of ingested mouthwash can have detrimental effects on the body.

Why People May Drink Mouthwash

Various factors may contribute to why some individuals resort to drinking mouthwash. It is essential to understand these underlying reasons to address the issue effectively. Some potential motivations for drinking mouthwash include:

  1. Limited access to alcohol: In situations where alcohol is unavailable or unaffordable, individuals may turn to mouthwash as a substitute due to its high alcohol content.
  2. Addiction or dependency: People struggling with alcohol addiction or dependency may resort to consuming mouthwash when they cannot obtain their preferred alcoholic beverages. The desire to satisfy cravings and maintain intoxication can drive individuals to seek alternative sources of alcohol.
  3. Lack of awareness: In certain cases, individuals may not fully comprehend the dangers associated with drinking mouthwash. They might mistakenly believe that mouthwash is safe for consumption or underestimate the potential risks involved.

Understanding the dangers and motivations behind drinking mouthwash is crucial in order to raise awareness and promote safer behaviors. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol-related issues, it is important to seek professional help. Treatment options and resources are available to assist individuals in overcoming addiction and dependency.

By educating ourselves and others about the dangers of drinking mouthwash, we can work towards preventing the harmful effects associated with this risky behavior.

The Components of Mouthwash

To understand the potential side effects of drinking mouthwash, it's important to examine its components. Mouthwash typically contains a variety of ingredients, including alcohol and other potentially harmful substances.

Alcohol Content in Mouthwash

One of the primary components of concern in mouthwash is alcohol. Alcohol-based mouthwashes are commonly used for their antiseptic properties, as alcohol helps to kill bacteria in the mouth. However, the alcohol content in mouthwash can vary significantly, ranging from approximately 15% to 30% or even higher.

For reference, a standard alcoholic beverage typically contains around 5% alcohol by volume (ABV). The higher alcohol concentration in mouthwash makes it potentially dangerous if consumed in excessive quantities. Ingesting large amounts of alcohol from mouthwash can lead to serious health risks, including alcohol poisoning.

It's important to note that certain individuals may be more susceptible to the effects of alcohol, such as those with liver disease, pregnant women, and individuals taking certain medications.

Other Harmful Ingredients

In addition to alcohol, some mouthwashes may contain other potentially harmful ingredients. These can include menthol, chlorhexidine, hydrogen peroxide, and methyl salicylate. While these ingredients serve specific purposes in oral hygiene, they can cause adverse effects if ingested in large quantities.

For example, excessive ingestion of menthol, which provides a cooling sensation, can lead to gastrointestinal issues. Chlorhexidine, an antimicrobial agent, may cause digestive disturbances and allergic reactions. Hydrogen peroxide, used for its whitening properties, can irritate the gastrointestinal tract. Methyl salicylate, found in some mouthwashes for its analgesic properties, can be toxic if consumed in large amounts.

It's important to read the labels of mouthwash products and be aware of the ingredients they contain. If you have any concerns or questions about the potential risks associated with specific mouthwash ingredients, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional.

Understanding the components of mouthwash helps shed light on the potential risks and side effects associated with its consumption. In the following section, we will delve into the short-term and long-term effects of drinking mouthwash to provide a comprehensive picture of the dangers involved.

Side Effects of Drinking Mouthwash

Drinking mouthwash can have serious short-term and long-term effects on an individual's health. It is important to understand these side effects in order to fully grasp the potential dangers associated with consuming mouthwash.

Short-Term Effects

Short-term effects of drinking mouthwash can be immediate and may vary depending on the amount consumed and the alcohol content in the mouthwash. Some common short-term effects include:

  • Intoxication: The alcohol content in mouthwash can lead to feelings of intoxication, similar to the effects of consuming alcoholic beverages. However, it is important to note that the alcohol content in mouthwash is significantly higher than that found in most alcoholic beverages.
  • Dizziness and Disorientation: Drinking mouthwash can cause dizziness, disorientation, and impaired coordination. These effects can impact one's ability to perform daily tasks safely.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: The ingestion of mouthwash can irritate the stomach lining, leading to nausea and vomiting. This can be followed by dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Mouth and Throat Irritation: Mouthwash contains various chemicals that are intended for oral use, not ingestion. Drinking mouthwash can cause irritation and inflammation of the mouth, throat, and digestive tract.

Long-Term Effects

Long-term consumption of mouthwash can have severe consequences on an individual's health. Prolonged exposure to the harmful ingredients found in mouthwash can lead to:

  • Organ Damage: The chemicals present in mouthwash, especially the alcohol content, can damage vital organs such as the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal system. Over time, this damage can become irreversible and may require medical intervention.
  • Addiction and Dependency: Regular consumption of mouthwash containing alcohol can lead to addiction and dependency. This can result in a cycle of compulsive drinking and the need to consume mouthwash to satisfy cravings. Seeking professional help and support is crucial for individuals struggling with addiction to mouthwash or alcohol.

It is important to note that drinking mouthwash is not a safe or effective way to consume alcohol. The alcohol content in mouthwash is not intended for ingestion and can cause serious harm to the body. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, it is important to seek appropriate treatment options and professional help without delay.

Health Risks and Consequences

Drinking mouthwash can have serious health risks and consequences, particularly due to the presence of alcohol and other harmful ingredients. Let's delve into the potential dangers associated with consuming mouthwash.

Alcohol Poisoning

One of the primary risks of drinking mouthwash is the potential for alcohol poisoning. Mouthwash contains a significant amount of alcohol, usually ranging from 18% to 26.9% alcohol by volume (ABV). When consumed in large quantities, this high alcohol content can lead to intoxication and, in severe cases, alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning occurs when the body is unable to metabolize the alcohol at the same rate it is being consumed. This can result in dangerous symptoms such as confusion, vomiting, seizures, slow or irregular breathing, and even loss of consciousness. In extreme cases, alcohol poisoning can be life-threatening and require immediate medical attention.

To put the alcohol content of mouthwash into perspective, a typical mouthwash bottle (355 ml) with an ABV of 26.9% can contain approximately 95 ml of alcohol. This is equivalent to consuming nearly four standard alcoholic drinks. It's crucial to understand the risks and avoid consuming mouthwash for its alcohol content.

Organ Damage

Another potential consequence of drinking mouthwash is organ damage, particularly to the liver, kidneys, and gastrointestinal system. Prolonged and excessive consumption of mouthwash can have detrimental effects on these vital organs.

The liver, in particular, is responsible for metabolizing alcohol in the body. When large amounts of alcohol are consumed through mouthwash, the liver can become overwhelmed and may sustain damage over time. This can lead to conditions such as liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver failure.

Similarly, the kidneys play a crucial role in filtering toxins from the body. The consumption of alcohol from mouthwash can put an extra burden on the kidneys, potentially leading to kidney damage or dysfunction.

The gastrointestinal system can also be adversely affected by the harmful ingredients present in mouthwash. The alcohol and other chemicals in mouthwash can irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines, leading to inflammation, digestive issues, and even ulcers.

Addiction and Dependency

Drinking mouthwash as a source of alcohol can also contribute to the development of addiction and dependency. Individuals who resort to consuming mouthwash for its alcohol content may be at risk of developing a substance use disorder.

Alcohol addiction can have severe consequences on a person's physical and mental health, relationships, and overall well-being. It is important to seek appropriate help and support to overcome addiction and break the cycle of dependency.

Understanding the potential health risks and consequences of drinking mouthwash emphasizes the importance of avoiding this dangerous behavior. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol misuse, it is essential to seek professional help and support. There are resources available to assist individuals in their journey towards recovery.

Seeking Help and Support

If you or someone you know is struggling with the harmful effects of drinking mouthwash, it's essential to seek help and support. There are various treatment options available and resources that can assist with recovery and overcoming the addiction.

Treatment Options

When it comes to addressing the issue of drinking mouthwash, seeking professional help is crucial. Treatment options for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction and dependency, including those related to drinking mouthwash, may include:

  1. Medical Detoxification: In severe cases, medical detoxification may be necessary to safely manage withdrawal symptoms and ensure the individual's physical well-being.
  2. Inpatient Rehabilitation: Inpatient rehabilitation programs provide a structured environment where individuals can receive intensive therapy, counseling, and support to address the underlying causes of their addiction.
  3. Outpatient Programs: Outpatient programs offer flexibility for individuals who don't require 24-hour supervision. These programs provide counseling, therapy, and support groups to help individuals overcome their addiction while maintaining their daily routines.
  4. Support Groups: Support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), can be valuable resources for individuals seeking peer support and guidance in their recovery journey.
  5. Therapy and Counseling: Individual therapy and counseling sessions can help individuals address the psychological and emotional aspects of their addiction, identify triggers, and develop coping mechanisms.

Remember, each individual's journey to recovery is unique, and the most effective treatment plan will depend on their specific needs and circumstances. It's important to consult with a healthcare professional or addiction specialist who can provide personalized guidance and recommendations.

Resources for Assistance and Recovery

There are numerous resources available to support individuals seeking help and recovery from alcohol addiction, including the harmful effects of drinking mouthwash. These resources can provide information, guidance, and support throughout the recovery process. Here are some valuable resources to consider:

  • National Helplines: National helplines and hotlines, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline, provide confidential support and referrals to treatment centers in your area.
  • Local Support Groups: Local support groups, such as AA and NA, offer a network of individuals who have faced similar challenges and can provide guidance and support throughout the recovery process.
  • Online Communities: Online communities, forums, and chat rooms dedicated to addiction recovery can provide a safe space for individuals to connect with others, share experiences, and seek support.
  • Counselors and Therapists: Seeking guidance from licensed counselors, therapists, or addiction specialists can provide professional support and assistance in navigating the recovery journey.

Remember, recovery is a challenging but worthwhile process. With the right support, resources, and determination, individuals can overcome their addiction and regain control of their lives.


In conclusion, drinking mouthwash can have severe consequences on an individual's health and well-being. The harmful ingredients present in mouthwash, particularly the high alcohol content, can cause short-term and long-term effects such as intoxication, organ damage, addiction, and dependency. It is crucial to understand the potential risks and consequences associated with consuming mouthwash and seek appropriate help and support for recovery from alcohol addiction.

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol misuse or addiction related to drinking mouthwash, remember that there are resources available to assist in the recovery journey. Seeking professional help and support can make a significant difference in overcoming addiction and regaining control of one's life. Remember that recovery is possible with the right guidance, determination, and support.


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