Can You Get Drunk Off Of Mouthwash?

Learn about the dangers of getting drunk off mouthwash. Stay safe and seek help for alcohol addiction.

By Rosewood Recovery Team
July 10, 2024

Can You Get Drunk Off Of Mouthwash?

Have you ever wondered if you can get drunk off of mouthwash? It's a question that has crossed the minds of many people, and the answer might surprise you. While mouthwash contains alcohol, it is not meant to be ingested in large quantities. In fact, drinking mouthwash can be extremely dangerous and even deadly.

According to the National Capital Poison Center, mouthwash contains a much higher concentration of alcohol than beer or wine. As a result, drinking a large amount of mouthwash can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can cause serious health problems or even death.

It's important to note that mouthwash is not intended for consumption, and should only be used as directed on the label. If you're concerned about the amount of alcohol you're consuming, it's best to speak with a healthcare professional to discuss your options.

What's in Mouthwash?

First, let's take a look at what's actually in mouthwash. Most mouthwashes contain alcohol, specifically ethanol, which is the same type of alcohol found in beer, wine, and spirits. However, the amount of alcohol in mouthwash is significantly lower than in alcoholic beverages. For example, a 1.5-ounce shot of vodka contains around 40% alcohol, while most mouthwashes have an alcohol content of around 20%.

Can You Get Drunk Off of Mouthwash?

While it is technically possible to get drunk off of mouthwash, the amount of alcohol needed to do so is extremely high. According to the National Capital Poison Center, a person would need to drink an entire bottle of mouthwash to feel the effects of alcohol intoxication. This is because the body metabolizes alcohol differently when it is ingested through the mouth, rather than through the stomach.

The History of Mouthwash

Mouthwash has been used for centuries as a way to freshen breath and promote oral hygiene. In fact, the ancient Greeks and Romans were known to use mouthwash made from vinegar and other natural ingredients.

In the 19th century, commercial mouthwashes began to be produced and sold in the United States. These early versions often contained harsh ingredients like alcohol, borax, and hydrogen peroxide. It wasn't until the 1960s that more gentle formulas were developed, which included fluoride to help prevent tooth decay.

Today, there are many different types of mouthwashes available on the market, each with their own unique benefits. Some are designed to fight bad breath, while others are formulated to help whiten teeth or reduce plaque buildup. With so many options available, it's important to choose a mouthwash that suits your specific needs and preferences.

Debunking the Myth: Mouthwash and Intoxication

There is a common myth that using mouthwash can make you feel drunk or even lead to a positive breathalyzer test. However, this is largely a misconception and has been debunked by several studies.

The reason why some people believe that mouthwash can make them drunk is because many brands contain alcohol, which can be absorbed into the bloodstream through the tissues in the mouth. However, the amount of alcohol in mouthwash is typically very low (usually less than 25% alcohol), and most people only use a small amount for a short period of time.

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), using mouthwash as directed is safe and unlikely to cause intoxication or a positive breathalyzer test. In fact, the ADA recommends using mouthwash as part of a daily oral hygiene routine to help kill bacteria and freshen breath.

It's worth noting that if you consume large quantities of mouthwash or use it improperly (such as swallowing it), you could potentially experience alcohol poisoning or other harmful effects. However, this would require a significant amount of mouthwash and is not a typical or recommended use of the product.

In conclusion, while some types of mouthwash do contain alcohol, using it as directed is generally safe and unlikely to cause intoxication or other negative effects. It's important to follow the instructions on the label and use only as much as recommended to maintain good oral hygiene.

Risks of Drinking Mouthwash

Drinking mouthwash can be extremely dangerous, even in small amounts. The alcohol in mouthwash can cause a range of negative side effects, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness and confusion
  • Low blood sugar
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Coma or death (in severe cases)

Additionally, some types of mouthwash contain other chemicals that can be harmful if ingested, such as hydrogen peroxide or methyl salicylate.

Effects of Long-Term Use of Mouthwash on Oral Health

While mouthwash can be a helpful addition to your oral hygiene routine, long-term use may have some negative effects on your oral health. Some studies suggest that using mouthwash regularly for extended periods of time can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the mouth and lead to dry mouth.

Dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, occurs when there is not enough saliva in the mouth to keep it moist. This can cause a range of problems, including bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. In addition, some types of mouthwash contain alcohol or other chemicals that can irritate the tissues in the mouth and contribute to oral health issues.

To avoid these potential side effects, it's important to use mouthwash as directed and only when necessary. If you're concerned about the impact of long-term use on your oral health, talk to your dentist or healthcare provider for personalized advice. They may recommend alternative products or strategies for maintaining good oral hygiene without relying solely on mouthwash.

Types of Alcohol in Mouthwash

Aside from ethanol, some mouthwashes also contain other types of alcohol. These include isopropanol and benzyl alcohol. Isopropanol, also known as rubbing alcohol, can be toxic if ingested in large amounts. Benzyl alcohol, on the other hand, is often used as a preservative and is generally considered safe for use in small amounts. However, it's important to note that not all mouthwashes contain these additional types of alcohols and they are not typically found in significant enough quantities to cause intoxication.

Therapeutic vs. Cosmetic Mouthwashes

It's important to note that not all mouthwashes are created equal. There are two main types of mouthwash: therapeutic and cosmetic.

Therapeutic mouthwashes contain active ingredients that help fight against oral health problems such as gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath. These active ingredients can include fluoride, essential oils, and antimicrobial agents like chlorhexidine.

Cosmetic mouthwashes, on the other hand, are designed to mask bad breath and leave a pleasant taste in the mouth. They do not contain any active ingredients that provide oral health benefits.

When choosing a mouthwash, it's important to consider your specific needs. If you have an oral health issue such as gum disease or tooth decay, a therapeutic mouthwash may be more beneficial for you. However, if you simply want to freshen your breath after meals or before social events, a cosmetic mouthwash may be sufficient. As always, it's best to consult with your dentist or healthcare provider before starting any new oral hygiene routine.

How to Choose the Right Mouthwash for Your Needs?

With so many different types of mouthwashes available on the market, it can be difficult to choose the right one for your needs. Here are some factors to consider when selecting a mouthwash:

1. Oral Health Concerns

If you have specific oral health concerns, it's important to choose a mouthwash that targets those issues. For example, if you're prone to cavities or gum disease, look for a mouthwash that contains fluoride or antimicrobial agents like chlorhexidine.

2. Alcohol Content

As mentioned earlier in this document, some mouthwashes contain alcohol while others do not. If you prefer an alcohol-free option, look for a mouthwash that is labeled as such. However, if you want the added benefits of alcohol (such as killing bacteria), look for a product with a low alcohol content.

3. Flavor

Mouthwashes come in a variety of flavors, from mint to cinnamon to fruity options. Consider your personal preferences and choose a flavor that you enjoy using.

4. Sensitivity

If you have sensitive teeth or gums, look for a mouthwash that is specially formulated for sensitive mouths. These products often contain gentle ingredients and are less likely to cause irritation.

5. Whitening Properties

If you're looking to whiten your teeth, there are several mouthwashes on the market that claim to do just that. Look for a product that contains whitening agents like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

By considering these factors and doing some research on different brands and types of mouthwashes, you can find the right product for your needs and maintain good oral hygiene in the process.

Tips for Using Mouthwash Safely and Effectively

Using mouthwash as part of your oral hygiene routine can be a great way to freshen breath, kill bacteria, and promote healthy teeth and gums. Here are some tips for using mouthwash safely and effectively:

Read the Label Carefully

Before using any mouthwash product, it's important to read the label carefully. This will help you understand the ingredients, recommended usage, and any potential risks or side effects.

Follow the Instructions

To get the most benefit from your mouthwash, it's important to follow the instructions on the label. This may include swishing for a certain amount of time or diluting with water before use.

Use Only as Directed

It's important not to use more mouthwash than recommended or to use it more frequently than directed. Overuse of mouthwash can lead to dry mouth, irritation, or other negative side effects.

Don't Swallow

While most types of mouthwash are safe if used as directed, it's important not to swallow the product. Swallowing even small amounts of mouthwash can be dangerous and may cause nausea, vomiting, or other harmful effects.

Avoid Alcohol-Based Mouthwashes (If Necessary)

If you're concerned about alcohol consumption or have a medical condition that makes alcohol use unsafe (such as liver disease), consider using an alcohol-free mouthwash instead.

Talk to Your Dentist

If you have questions or concerns about using mouthwash safely and effectively, talk to your dentist or healthcare provider. They can provide personalized advice based on your individual needs and help you choose the best products for your oral health goals.

By following these tips and using mouthwash responsibly, you can enjoy all the benefits of this helpful oral hygiene tool without putting yourself at risk for negative side effects.

Alternatives to Mouthwash for Fresh Breath

If you're looking for alternatives to using mouthwash for fresh breath, there are several options available. One simple solution is to brush your teeth more frequently throughout the day, especially after meals or snacks. Another option is to use sugar-free gum or mints that contain xylitol, which can help reduce bacteria in the mouth and freshen your breath. In addition, drinking plenty of water can help flush out food particles and bacteria that can cause bad breath. Finally, maintaining a healthy diet that's low in sugary and acidic foods can also help keep your breath smelling fresh.

Proper Disposal of Mouthwash Bottles

When you're finished with a bottle of mouthwash, it's important to dispose of it properly. Most mouthwash bottles are made of plastic and can be recycled in your community's recycling program. Be sure to rinse out the bottle before recycling it to remove any remaining mouthwash residue.

Some types of mouthwash may contain chemicals that require special disposal methods. For example, mouthwashes that contain chlorhexidine or essential oils should not be poured down the drain as they can harm aquatic life and contaminate water sources. Instead, check with your local waste management facility for guidance on how to safely dispose of these products. In some cases, you may need to take them to a hazardous waste disposal site.

By disposing of your mouthwash containers properly, you can help protect the environment and ensure that potentially harmful chemicals don't end up in our waterways or landfills.


Can drinking a lot of mouthwash make you drunk?

Drinking a significant amount of mouthwash can potentially cause alcohol poisoning, which can lead to symptoms such as confusion, vomiting, and loss of consciousness. However, this would require consuming a large quantity of mouthwash and is not a typical or recommended use of the product.

How much alcohol is in mouthwash?

The amount of alcohol in mouthwash varies depending on the brand and type. However, most types contain less than 25% alcohol, which is significantly less than beer or wine.

Can using mouthwash cause a positive breathalyzer test?

Using mouthwash as directed is unlikely to cause a positive breathalyzer test. While some types of mouthwash do contain alcohol, the amount is typically very low and most people only use a small amount for a short period of time.

Is it safe to swallow small amounts of mouthwash?

While swallowing small amounts of mouthwash is generally considered safe, it's important to avoid doing so whenever possible. Swallowing even small amounts can potentially cause negative side effects such as nausea and vomiting.

Are there any alternative uses for mouthwash besides oral hygiene?

While the primary use for mouthwash is oral hygiene, some people use it for other purposes such as cleaning wounds or disinfecting surfaces. However, it's important to note that these uses are not recommended by healthcare professionals and may not be effective in preventing infection or promoting healing.


In conclusion, while it is technically possible to get drunk off of mouthwash, it is not recommended or safe to do so. The amount of alcohol needed to feel the effects of intoxication is extremely high, and drinking mouthwash can have serious negative side effects. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol addiction, it's important to seek professional help and support.

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