Why Does Listerine Burn?

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Listerine is a popular brand of antiseptic mouthwash. If you’ve seen ads for Listerine, you know it’s slogan: “kills germs that cause bad breath.” It was named after Joseph Lister who is considered the pioneer of antiseptic surgery and developed in 1879 by a chemist named Joseph Lawrence. This mouthwash has been around for over 100 years and is a staple in many bathrooms.

Listerine contains four essential oils: eucalyptol, menthol, thymol, and methyl salicaylate. Eucalyptol comes from the eucalyptus tree and acts as an antibacterial and antifungal agent. Menthol features germ killing properties that help prevent the growth of bacteria in the mouth. Thymol has antiseptic qualities that can help fight oral infection while methyl salicaylate provides a flavoring agent for fresh breath.

If you’ve ever used Listerine, you may have noticed that it burns. The burn that it causes is the result of alcohol in it as well as the essential oils described above. We’ve found that some patients are okay with the burning sensation because it confirms that the Listerine is working and they’ll be left with fresh breath.

Other patients, especially those with sensitive gums cannot tolerate the burning. If the burning sensation of Listerine leaves you with painful ulcers or other discomfort, it’s a good idea to switch to a mouthwash without any alcohol and a minimal amount of these essential oils.

While the regular use of mouthwash can straighten your teeth and get rid of bad breath, it’s not a substitute for good brushing and flossing. Be sure to always brush and floss your teeth first and then rinse your mouth with mouthwash.

Contact Costa Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

If you have any questions on Listerine or the type of mouthwash you should be using, we encourage you to contact us today. Call us at 703-757-0833 to schedule an appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!