What Happens if you Swallow a Mouthwash?

Cleansing your mouth with mouthwash helps in removing food debris, tartar, plaque, and germs from hard-to-reach areas of your teeth. However, mouthwash needs to be spit out after rinsing. It should not be swallowed as the ingredients may be hazardous when ingested in large amounts.

So, what happens if you or your child accidentally swallows mouthwash?

There are certain dangers associated with the swallowing of mouthwash, especially in case of an overdose. Keep in mind to avoid panic in situations like these.

This article provides a comprehensive guide to the toxic effects of swallowing mouthwash. We also offer a few tips to help you or your family members deal with the dangers of swallowing mouthwash.

Now, without wasting any more time, let us dive straight into the article!

Know about the Alcohol Content of Mouthwash

Before we go further into the article, it is essential to know about the ingredients used in the making of mouthwash. Certain mouthwash consists of high alcohol content, namely ethanol. The intoxicating chemical is mostly found in beer, liquor, and wine.

There are other ingredients added in mouthwash to discourage consumption. These include menthol, thymol, eucalyptol, and methyl salicylate. Potentially harmful substances found in mouthwash are hydrogen peroxide and chlorhexidine gloconate.

The content of mouthwash helps in killing germs and bacteria to ensure a fresh and clean mouth. However, when ingested, it may lead to health hazards.

Why do People Swallow Mouthwash?

There are primarily two reasons for swallowing mouthwash, i.e., accidentally or non-accidentally.

Accidental Swallowing of Mouthwash

Distraction while practicing oral hygiene may lead to accidental swallowing of mouthwash. You might forget to spit it out and consume it instead.

Also, those who don’t know how to rinse their mouth appropriately using mouthwash may accidentally consume a small volume. Children between the age of 6 and 12 tend to swallow the mouthwash when unsupervised.

Non-Accidental Swallowing of Mouthwash

We already know that many mouthwash bottles come with high alcohol content. Reports suggest mouthwash serve as an alternative in case of unavailability of non-alcohol beverage. The low cost and easy availability make it accessible of one and all. Hence, alcoholics consume mouthwash in large quantities when they are unable to access alcoholic beverages.

Moreover, it is easy to obtain and hide. Hence, those alcoholics who have relapsed may consume mouthwash hidden from the eyes of their loved ones. Often people tend to overdose on mouthwash, which leads to emergency situations related to health.

Dangers of Swallowing Alcohol

We already know the high alcohol content and other ingredients make it unfit for ingestion. It can also cause alcohol poisoning if too much is consumed within a short period.

Remember that mouthwash should be used for rinsing your mouth twice a day, after meals. It is not designed for consumption.

To answer the primary question of what happens if you swallow mouthwash, we explain the dangers associated with it.

We look into the two situations- mouthwash swallowed in small volumes, and mouthwash swallowed in large volumes. This will help you get a better idea regarding the toxic and harmful effects of consuming mouthwash.

What happens if mouthwash is swallowed in a small volume?

If you or a child accidentally swallows a minimal volume of mouthwash, then there is no need to panic. You are obviously not going to die! However, you may experience nausea and diarrhea, which will pass within a day or two.

Once you are better, go back to your oral hygiene practice, but keep your mind focused while rinsing your mouth with mouthwash. Also, supervise the use of mouthwash for your child.

What happens if mouthwash is swallowed in a large volume?

In case you consume a large volume of mouthwash unknowingly, then you may experience stomach ache, nausea, dizziness, and other symptoms. Also, if your family member or loved one overdoses on mouthwash, then it can lead to alcohol poisoning because of the presence of fluoride and ethanol.

The ingredients of the product cause toxic effects on your health. In these situations, check the label for ingredients and immediately seek help by calling the emergency helpline numbers. Never try to make the person vomit. Always seek professional help from a health care facility.

Most common symptoms of overdosing on mouthwash are as follows:

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness or dizziness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar level
  • Low body temperature
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Impaired coordination
  • Changes in urination
  • Sore throat
  • Slurred speech
  • Fainting or losing consciousness
  • Coma
  • Convulsions

Tips to Remember if you or your Loved One Swallows Mouthwash

There are a few tips to follow if you or your family member swallows mouthwash. The following points will help you deal with such situations. You should also consider these points to prevent the swallowing of mouthwash in the future.

So, now without wasting any more time, let us take a look at these critical points:

Avoid Panic:

The first and most essential point is to avoid panic if you or your loved one accidentally swallows mouthwash. A small volume of mouthwash will not kill you. You may experience nausea and diarrhea for a day or two, but nothing more.

On the other hand, overdosing on mouthwash is potentially hazardous. So, panicking will not help you in any way; instead it will make it worse. You need to maintain a calm mind to follow the necessary actions, which we shall now discuss.

Check the Label:

Check the label of the mouthwash bottle to identify the potentially poisonous ingredients, namely ethanol and fluoride. Overdosing may lead to severe health hazards, including convulsions, drowsiness, dizziness, and difficulty in breathing.

If you notice symptoms like this, then you need to check the other ingredients to inform the medical doctor or health professional. This will be a huge help, and it saves time in saving the victim. You should also carry the bottle to the emergency room, so the doctors know the ingredient they are dealing with.

Seek Help

Don’t waste time and instead call on the provided helpline numbers to seek medical help. Refrain from making the person vomit as it will only make the condition worse. Ensure you have all the required details, including the victim’s age, weight, height, and the type and volume of mouthwash consumed. Have the bottle near you so that you can read out the ingredients to the helpline operator.

If you think that waiting is not a suitable option, then take the person to the emergency room or hospital immediately.

Supervise your Child

You can easily avoid accidental swallowing of mouthwash by taking necessary measures. Don’t allow your kid to rinse his or her mouth with mouthwash without adult supervision. Children between the age group of 6 to 12 should use mouthwash only under supervision. Ensure they spit it out completely after rinsing.

Children below the age of 6 may have trouble controlling their swallow reflex. So, prevent them from using a mouthwash. Also, keep it away from their reach so that they don’t consume it unknowingly.

Avoid Distraction

Ensure 100% focus while practicing your oral hygiene routine. Don’t allow family members to distract you while rinsing your mouth with mouthwash. This may make you forget to spit out the liquid, and you may swallow it by mistake. Hence, you are advised to perform your oral care activities in a closed room, so no one disturbs you.

Keep the Mouthwash Bottle Hidden

The mouthwash bottle is small and can be easily hidden. Keep it hidden away from alcoholics or recovering alcoholics to prevent a relapse. Also, ensure that it is out of reach from young children below the age of 6.

Alcohol-Free Mouthwash

The market is also flooded with a variety of alcohol-free mouthwash alternatives, which provide similar oral health benefits. These mouthwashes are safer as they do not lead to potential toxic health hazards even if swallowed accidentally. They are safe, effective, and reduce plaque build-up.


Rinsing your mouth with mouthwash is effective in removing plaque and tartar build-up. It also leaves your mouth feeling refreshed, lasting throughout the day. You should know the proper way of using a mouthwash to prevent swallowing. Use a cap to measure the ideal volume of mouthwash, rinse your mouth well, and then make sure to spit.

Consuming a small volume of mouthwash will not kill you. However, accidentally swallowing mouthwash in large volumes may lead to hazardous health issues. This is something you need to avoid!

This article aims to educate you regarding swallowing mouthwash in small or large volumes. It also provides you a few tips to help you deal with situations where you or your family swallows or overdoses on mouthwash. These points also include tips to help you prevent this from occurring again.

With that note, we come to the end of our comprehensive and informative guide. We hope this article helps you deal with dangerous situations like this. Always seek help from a professional medical worker or a doctor. Never, try to do anything without the supervision from health experts.

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Author Bio-

Abdul Ansari is the writer of this article. He is a freelance blogger and has written multiple articles for websites. He also likes to write product reviews about home, sports, and fitness. On weekends you will find him playing volleyball. He likes to travel to various places.