Why Does Listerine Burn My Tongue?

This blog post will address the question, “why does Listerine burn my tongue?” and cover topics like why does mouthwash burn, use of a non-alcoholic mouthwash to prevent burning of tongue, different options available while buying a mouthwash, if Listerine is a chlorhexidine mouthwash, which is better-Listerine or chlorhexidine mouthwash and benefits of using mouthwash.

Why Does Listerine Burn My Tongue?

Listerine may burn your tongue because of the active ingredients present in it.

Listerine is a phenolic mouthwash containing methyl salicylate, eucalyptol, thymol, and menthol as its active ingredients. 

These active ingredients may cause your tongue to burn as the taste buds are highly sensitive to them.

Why Does Mouthwash Burn?

Mouthwash burns or gives a burning sensation because of its alcohol or chlorhexidine content.

According to a study, alcohol present in the mouthwash is responsible for burning sensations in the mouth and tongue. 

Alcohol present is also responsible to cause oral dryness and altered taste.

Can I Use A Non-Alcoholic Mouthwash To Prevent Burning Of My Tongue?

Yes! Non-alcoholic mouthwash can be used to prevent the burning of your tongue and mouth.

A study found non-alcoholic mouthwash to be as effective as an alcohol-containing mouthwash.

According to the study, alcohol in the mouthwash has a limited role as a solvent and serves no other purpose.

The study also cautioned against the long-term use of an alcohol-based mouthwash as it may predispose to oral cancer.

Hence, you can use non-alcoholic mouthwash as its efficacy is the same as that of an alcoholic mouthwash but with lesser side effects and burning sensations.

What Are The Different Options Available For You While Buying A Mouthwash?

Mouthwashes are of different categories. Mouthwashes are categorised as Cosmetic and Therapeutic types 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 has 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 the 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 to 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.

Is Listerine a chlorhexidine mouthwash?

No, Listerine is not a chlorhexidine mouthwash. 

It is a phenolic mouthwash containing methyl salicylate, eucalyptol, thymol, and menthol as its active ingredients. 

Chlorhexidine mouthwash is a therapeutic mouthwash often prescribed by dentists to kill and control oral bacteria and thus prevent oral infections.

Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic and thus useful in the treatment of mouth ulcers, sore throats, oral infections, and gum diseases.

Which Is Better, Listerine Or Chlorhexidine?

In a clinical trial, it was found that chlorhexidine was better than Listerine in maintaining lower plaque levels and better gingival health over a 3-week use without any brushing and flossing.

In a comparative study published in the journal of international oral health, it was concluded that chlorhexidine mouthwash was better than Listerine in reducing plaque growth.

Benefits Of Using A Mouthwash

According to a research published in the journal of clinical medicine research, mouthwash containing chlorhexidine gluconate or cetylpyridinium chloride showed antimicrobial activity against most bacteria in the plaque biofilm.

Another study concluded that the chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride containing antiseptic mouthwashes had higher in-vitro antibacterial activity against streptococcus mutans, a bacteria found in the plaque biofilm.

Mouthwash when used as an adjunct to brushing and flossing has several benefits like:

  • Treatment of gum diseases such as gingivitis and bleeding gums
  • Prevention of oral ulcers
  • Prevention and relief from sore throats
  • Reducing oral bacteria and plaque formation
  • Caries and cavities prevention


This blog post addressed the topic, “why does listerine burn my tongue”. We understood why does mouthwash burn, use of a non-alcoholic mouthwash to prevent burning of tongue, different options available while buying a mouthwash, if listerine is a chlorhexidine mouthwash, which is better-listerine or chlorhexidine mouthwash and benefits of using mouthwash.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs): Why Does Listerine Burn My Tongue

Does Listerine Kill The COVID-19 Virus?

No, listerine is not known to kill COVID-19 virus. The available in-vitro studies have found listerine to be effective in reducing the sore throat symptoms of COVID-19 but the data is insufficient.

Can Listerine Be Used As A Hand Sanitizer?

No, listerine cannot and should not be used as a hand sanitizer. It is only to be used as an antiseptic mouthwash to maintain good oral hygiene and prevent plaque, cavities, gingivitis and bad breath.

Can Listerine Cause A Sore Throat?

No! Listerine cannot cause a sore throat. 

Listerine is a mouthwash and may cause a burning sensation in the mouth or throat due to its alcohol and menthol content. 

The burning sensation in the throat due to listerine is often mistaken to be a sore throat. 

However, it is only a temporary effect mainly due to alcohol present in the listerine mouthwash.

Can Mouthwash Prevent Cavities?

Using mouthwash along with brushing twice a day and flossing once daily maintains good oral hygiene and prevents plaque accumulation, thereby preventing bacterial acid attack and cavity formation.

Can Mouthwash Replace Brushing Teeth?

No, mouthwash cannot replace brushing teeth and act as only an adjunct to brushing teeth.

According to most of the research studies done on mouthwash and oral hygiene, mouthwash can only be used in conjunction with tooth brushing and flossing.

Mouthwash is not recommended as a replacement for tooth brushing because its continuous and prolonged usage have been known to cause teeth staining and even enamel erosion in a few cases.

Hence, it is very evident that mouthwash can’t replace mechanical methods of maintaining good oral hygiene such tooth brushing twice a day and flossing daily once.

Research recommends occasional and cautious use of therapeutic mouthwash.

Other FAQs about Mouthwash that you may be interested in.

What is a Chlorhexidine Mouthwash?

Is Listerine a chlorhexidine mouthwash?

How To Use Chlorhexidine Mouthwash With Water?


Why Does Mouthwash Burn? Tips on Finding the Product for You. Colgate


Is Mouthwash Supposed to Burn? (2020)


Listerine – ScienceDirect


Chlorhexidine, (2021)


The Advantages and Disadvantages of Chlorhexidine Mouthwash. (2018)


Effects of Chlorhexidine mouthwash on the oral microbiome. (2020)


Chlorhexidine mouthrinse as an adjunctive treatment for gingival health. (2017)


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