Can Mouthwash Cause A Sore Throat?

This blog post will answer the question, “can mouthwash cause a sore throat?” and comprehensively cover topics like what research says, what a sore throat is, types of sore throats, signs and symptoms of a sore throat, various causes of sore throat, home remedies for a sore throat, when to call your doctor, diagnosis of a sore throat, medicines for a sore throat, the different types of mouthwash and choosing the right one for a sore throat.

Can Mouthwash Cause A Sore Throat?

No, mouthwash is not generally known to cause sore throat. In fact, mouthwash is known to relieve the painful symptoms of sore throat by killing the infectious microorganisms responsible for sore throat.

So next time you suffer from a sore throat, use mouthwash along with brushing twice a day and flossing once, to maintain good oral hygiene and relieve the symptoms of sore throat.

What Does Research Say?

A recent 2021 study concluded that daily use of phthalocyanine derived mouthwash reduces the clinical symptoms of COVID-19 such as sore throat, cough and ulcers in the mouth.

A 2017 published review paper reports chlorhexidine mouthwash to be a broad-spectrum antimicrobial and thus to be effective against a wide variety of infections including sore throat.

A 2015 study reported ketamine mouthwash to significantly reduce the risk of postoperative sore throat.

According to an article published in the International Journal of Oral-Medical Sciences, mouthwash was found to significantly reduce the incidences of oral dryness, halitosis and sore throat.

However, a research study published in the journal of advanced medical and dental sciences research, reports incidences of sore throat and or sore mouth in uncontrolled diabetic patients using 0.12% of chlorhexidine gluconate mouthwash.

What Is A Sore Throat?

Dry, painful, or itching and scratchy feeling in the throat is a sore throat with pain being the most common symptom. 

Depending on the part of the throat they affect, sore throat can be divided into following types: 

  • Pharyngitis – area right behind the mouth is mostly affected
  • Tonsillitis – swelling and redness of the tonsils mostly in the back of the mouth.
  • Laryngitis – swelling and redness of the voice box, also called larynx.

Sore Throat Symptoms

Sore throat symptoms may vary depending on the cause. A sore throat can feel:

  • Scratchy and itchy
  • Burning and dry
  • Tender and irritated

Symptoms of a sore throat aggravate on swallowing and the tonsils appear red. Area of pus may also form on the tonsils.

Secondary symptoms associated with sore throat are:

  • nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Sneezing and cough
  • Fever or chills
  • swollen glands in the neck and hoarse voice
  • body aches and headache
  • Difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia) and appetite loss

Causes Of Sore Throats

Causes of sore throats range from colds, flu, viral and bacterial infections to allergies and injuries. Some of the most common causes of sore throat are: 

1. Viral infections

Viruses cause about 90 percent of sore throats. Viruses that cause sore throats are:

  • Common cold
  • Influenza — The Flu
  • Measles
  • Chickenpox

2. Bacterial infections

Bacterial infections can also result in sore throats. 

Group A Streptococcus bacteria causes the most common infection of the throat and tonsils, called Strep Throat, most commonly in children.

3. Allergies

Allergens like pollen, grass, and pet dander triggers the immune system to release chemicals that cause symptoms similar to that of a sore throat. 

4. Dry air

Dry air, mostly during winters, can vapour off moisture from the mouth and throat. This leads to a dry and scratchy feeling in the throat that resembles sore throat symptoms.

5. Smoke and chemicals

The following may irritate the throat leading to symptoms similar to that of a sore throat: 

  • cigarette and other tobacco smoke
  • air pollution
  • cleaning products and other chemicals and irritants

6. Injury

Any injury, continuous talking or yelling or singing, strains the vocal cords and muscles in the throat, leading to symptoms of a sore throat.  

7. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a condition in which stomach acid returns back into the oesophagus, burning the oesophagus and throat, causing symptoms like heartburn.

8. Tumour

A tumour of the throat, voice box, or tongue is a rare cause of a sore throat. 

The signs and symptoms of sore throat in such cases are persistent and do not go away in a few days. 

Home Remedies For A Sore Throat

Most sore throats are treatable at home with plenty of rest and following home remedies to lessen the pain of a sore throat:

  • Warm water and 1 teaspoon salt mixture gargle
  • Drink warm, throat soothing liquids like hot honey tea, herbal tea, soup broth, or warm water with lemon.
  • A piece of hard candy or a lozenge may prove to be beneficial.
  • Adding moisture to the air using a humidifier can reduce the pain of sore throat.
  • Be quiet and let your voice relax to get relief from symptoms of sore throat.

When To Call Your Doctor

Sore throats due to a viral infection usually get better on their own in two to seven days. 

If it persists even after seven days and symptoms worsen, it is time to call your doctor. 

How Is A Sore Throat Diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose sore throat based on symptoms, a throat exam, and a strep test to rule out the possibility of strep throat.

For a sore throat, you might need to visit an ENT (ears, nose and throat) specialist.

Medicines For A Sore Throat

Pain is the most common symptom of a sore throat and can be relieved by taking over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen etc.

A sore throat spray, menthol or eucalyptus based cooling syrups or throat lozenges may also help reduce the discomfort from sore throat. 

Types Of Mouthwash And One Which Is Best For Sore Throat

Mouthwashes are categorised as Cosmetic and Therapeutic type by the FDA and American Dental Association (ADA).

Cosmetic Mouthwash: 

Cosmetic Mouthwash is only to mask the bad breath and does not correct the dental condition causing bad breath.

Therapeutic Mouthwash: 

Therapeutic mouthwashes as the name suggests have therapeutic action and control dental conditions like gingivitis, tooth decay and periodontal diseases. 

They also help remove halitosis and have been found effective in relieving sore throat symptoms.

Therapeutic Mouthwashes contain ADA listed active ingredients such as fluoride, peroxide, essential oils, cetylpyridinium chloride, and chlorhexidine, all regulated by the FDA.

All mouthwashes are different. Some mouthwash have alcohol, preservatives or antimicrobials as their main ingredient while others do not. 

Categories of therapeutic mouthwash:


Ethanol is the main ingredient in most alcohol-based mouthwashes.

Ethanol kills germs and bacteria and helps to reduce plaque and gingivitis by dissolving and dispersing essential oils like thymol or menthol.


Mouthwashes may contain both antimicrobials and alcohol or only antimicrobials. Chlorhexidine, a main antimicrobial ingredient, helps reduce and prevent plaque and gingivitis.

Studies have also found chlorhexidine to be effective in relieving the symptoms of sore throat.


Parabens are the most common type of preservative used in mouthwashes. 

Parabens help to prevent infections and also to keep a mixture stable. 

According to a research paper published in 2004, parabens can enter the body through skin and cause hormonal changes leading to cancer. 

Therefore, it is advised to avoid mouthwashes containing parabens or consult your dentist before using such products.


Natural Mouthwashes are gaining popularity due the rising concerns associated with chemicals and their harmful effects on the body.

According to a research article published in the International Journal of Pharma and Bio Sciences, herbal or natural mouthwash plays a significant role in fighting against sore throat causing bacteria and is thus recommended in cases of sore throat.


This blog post addressed the question, “Can mouthwash cause a sore throat?” We understood what research says, what a sore throat is, types of sore throats, symptoms of a sore throat and various causes of sore throat. The article outlined home remedies for a sore throat, right time to call your doctor and diagnosis of a sore throat including medicines for a sore throat, the different types of mouthwash and choosing the right one for a sore throat.



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs): Can Mouthwash Cause A Sore Throat?

Does brushing your teeth help with sore throat?

Yes, brushing your teeth can be an effective way to get rid of a sore throat. Brushing your teeth helps maintain a good oral health that improves the overall infection fighting ability of the body.

Can teeth issues cause sore throat?

Yes, teeth issues like an abscessed tooth can cause severe pain, and can also cause bacteria to spread throughout your mouth, resulting in a sore throat.

What drink helps a sore throat?

Gargling with a mixture of warm water and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of salt helps a sore throat heal faster. 

Drink warm, throat soothing liquids such as hot tea with honey, soup broth, or warm water with lemon.

Can a toothache cause a sore throat? 

Yes, sore throat is a secondary symptom of toothache. Many patients don’t realise the cause of the pain in their throat is actually their teeth. 

A wisdom tooth infection may feel like a sore throat and may even be accompanied by swollen lymph node glands resembling a common cold.

Which mouthwash kills the most bacteria?

Mouthwash containing Xylitol killed the most bacteria followed by alcohol based mouthwash and then the chemical substitute mouthwash.

How many times can you mouthwash in a day?

It is healthy to mouthwash one time per day in addition to using floss and brushing teeth twice a day. 

Long term continuous use of mouthwash may erode your teeth enamel and cause staining of your teeth.

According to a study, people using mouthwash twice or more than twice daily had a significantly increased risk of pre-diabetes or diabetes compared to less frequent users or non-users of mouthwash. 

Other FAQs about Mouthwash that you may be interested in.

Tooth Pain Goes Away With Mouthwash

Does Listerine Kill Bacteria In Your Mouth?

Best mouthwash for sore throat


a Fonseca Orcina, Bernardo et al. “A Phthalocyanine Derivate Mouthwash to Gargling/Rinsing as an Option to Reduce Clinical Symptoms of COVID-19: Case Series.” Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dentistry vol. 13 47-50. 18 Feb. 2021, doi:10.2147/CCIDE.S295423

Mayhood, Jillian; Cress, Kayla Effectiveness of ketamine gargle in reducing postoperative sore throat in patients undergoing airway instrumentation: a systematic review, JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports: September 2015 – Volume 13 – Issue 9 – p 244-278 

Sore Throat, (2020)

Is Mouthwash Bad for You? Effects, Risks, Who Shouldn’t Use It

Chlorhexidine, (2021)

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