Is Listerine Mouthwash Good or Bad For Your Teeth? [Hint: You’ll want to know]

Listerine mouthwash

Thinking of adding Listerine mouthwash to your dental routine? Need a comprehensive guide on the pros and cons?

You’ve come to the right place. This article will detail all the benefits and drawbacks of using Listerine mouthwash. Listerine is good incorporation into your oral care. It may not be organic. But it is beneficial. As long as you use it according to recommendations, it works great. 

What is in Listerine mouthwash? 

The common ingredients across all Listerine mouthwashes are the following: 

Ingredient nameWhat does it do?
Benzoic Acid and Sodium BenzoateThese are antimicrobial preservatives. They prevent the growth of bacteria, fungus, and mold. They also prevent discoloration, changes in pH, and overall spoilage. This action prolongs shelf-life
Poloxamer 407This compound is used as a solvent, emulsifier, and stabilizer. It helps liquids to blend together without separating. 

Active ingredients

The active ingredients used in Listerine mouthwash include the following essential oils:

IngredientWhat does it do?
Eucalyptol This oil is extracted from plants like Eucalyptus and Tea Tree. It reduces inflammation and provides a cooling sensation. 
MentholThis minty addition breaks down plaque films. It also alleviates bleeding gums. 
Thymol This oil reduces swollen, chafed gums.  It is also great for gargling because it calms down a sore throat.
Methyl Salicylate This is used together with menthol. It is an analgesic and an antiseptic. It lessens pain from sore gums and keeps them hygienic. 

What is the pH level of Listerine mouthwash? Is it acidic? 

The pH of Listerine mouthwashes ranges from about 4.5 to 6.5. The Listerine Antiseptic has an acidic pH of 4.88. Ranges like Listerine Zero have a more neutral pH. The saliva in our mouths has an average pH range of about 6.2 to 7.6. 

Anything below this range is acidic under normal circumstances. People with healthy teeth and gums can regulate the acid. They produce more saliva and neutralize acidity. But it worsens enamel erosion for people prone to cavities. This is because it causes a pH imbalance.  

On the pH scale, Listerine is acidic. But the intensity differs from one individual to another.  

Does Listerine contain alcohol?

Listerine offers both alcohol and non-alcohol mouthwashes. The mouthwashes containing alcohol include Listerine Total Care, Antiseptic, and Ultra Clean. These contain ethanol or ethyl alcohol or a combination.

Alcohol makes up almost a quarter of the total mouthwash. It is about 25% of the total formula. This is much higher compared to drinks like beer.  

The ethanol is specially-denatured (SD). This makes it rather unpleasant to drink. But you still need to be careful not to ingest it. 

Does Listerine contain fluoride? 

Yes, some ranges do contain fluoride. These include the Listerine Smart Rinse and Total Care Zero Alcohol mouthwashes. These are available in different flavors. They are made for kids and adults respectively. 

The active ingredient in these is sodium fluoride. It is an effective anti-cavity rinse. It makes the enamel coating stronger. This makes your teeth more resistant to bacterial infections. 

Sodium fluoride can’t prevent cavities. But it slows down their progress by increasing the absorption of vital minerals.

Does Listerine Mouthwash contain chlorhexidine? 

No, Listerine mouthwash doesn’t contain chlorhexidine. Chlorhexidine can be a mouthwash in itself. Or, it can be added to a mouthwash combination. It is an antiseptic, germicidal agent. Its primary function is to treat gingivitis. It calms down aching gums and reduces bleeding. 

Chlorhexidine also inhibits bacterial growth which can aggravate the disease. This compound also helps heal ulcers, gum boils, and blisters. Chlorhexidine mouthwashes include PerioGard and Peridex. 

Chlorhexidine treatment can stain the teeth. It can also cause a brief metallic aftertaste. 

Does Listerine mouthwash contain sugar? Does it contain xylitol?

All Listerine mouthwashes are sugar-free. But they do contain artificial sweeteners. These include sorbitol, sucralose, and sodium saccharin.

Sorbitol is sugar alcohol extracted from corn syrup. It isn’t fully digestible by the system. It only contributes about 60% calories of table sugar. Listerine also uses sucralose (Splenda). This contains dextrose but it is sugar-free. 

These sweeteners may contain a few carbs. But they are used in minute amounts. They are 500-700 times sweeter than normal sugar. So the carb count is negligible-almost zero. 

Sodium saccharin is also a synthetic, lab-made sweetener. It has zero carbs and calories. It is about 300-400 times sweeter than average. 

Listerine does not use xylitol. Xylitol is sugar alcohol extracted from plants and plant fibers. It is less sweet compared to other sugar substitutes. It also helps with teeth whitening. But it may cause digestive distress and bloat. It is also poisonous for pets. 

Does Listerine mouthwash contain sodium lauryl sulfate? 

Some varieties of Listerine mouthwash do contain sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). This includes the Listerine Total Care Zero Fluoride Mouthwash. Other ranges like the Antiseptic and Naturals ranges do not contain SLS. 

SLS is a surfactant. It is used in mouthwash to make it foam. This action cleans teeth thoroughly when swished and swirled around. It gets rid of food debris stuck in between teeth. This prevents tartar accumulation and decay. 

Some Listerine varieties contain lauramidopropyl betaine. This is a substitute surfactant for SLS. 

Does Listerine Mouthwash contain hydrogen peroxide? 

Listerine mouthwashes do not contain hydrogen peroxide. Only the Listerine Healthy White Vibrant Mouthwash contains about 1.5-2% hydrogen peroxide content. But this variety is only available in Canada and some other regions. 

Many types of mouthwash use hydrogen peroxide at about 2-3%. Hydrogen Peroxide is used for its bleaching effect. At the concentrations used it is safe for rinsing. The compound whitens teeth. It removes stains- even stubborn deep-set ones. 

But too much peroxide may also damage your gums. 

Does Listerine Mouthwash contain gluten?

Listerine Mouthwash is gluten-free for all practical purposes. It does not use any grains or grain extracts. The alcohol is also not gluten-based. Many alcohols are derived from the fermentation of grains like barley, wheat, and others containing gluten.  

The company does not rule out the possibility of cross-contamination, though. Common or shared manufacturing and processing facilities may leave traces.

It is a low-risk option for those with mild gluten intolerance or celiac disease. Listerine does not test for gluten. People with hypersensitivity should avoid it. Accidental ingestion is a possibility. It could cause immune responses like anaphylactic shock.

Is Listerine mouthwash toxic?

Listerine mouthwash isn’t toxic. But it can be dangerous if swallowed in significant quantities. It isn’t harmful if gulped down by mistake. Small amounts may cause slight nausea or diarrhea. But larger quantities can cause disorientation and sometimes, even seizures. 

Remember when we said some Listerine mouthwashes contain as much as 25% alcohol? Alcohol overdose may lead to liver failure and stomach damage. Alcohol-free Listerine won’t cause intoxication. But it still has several chemicals that aren’t meant to be ingested. You may have to get your stomach pumped, or even flush out your kidneys. 

These risks are obviously higher for children. Their systems are more sensitive and reactive 

Listerine mouthwash benefits

There are many benefits from regular use of Listerine mouthwash. There are the obvious ones, like reduction in plaque, tartar, and bacteria accumulation. This action reduces cavities. It also prevents further deterioration.  

Listerine also keeps gum disease at bay. It stops germ accumulation in crevices. It strengthens the outer layer of enamel and remineralizes the enamel. This keeps teeth strong and decay-resistant. The mouthwash flushes out any remaining germs and provides an all-around lave. This rounds out your routine, keeping your teeth and gums in top form. 

Is Listerine mouthwash antiseptic? Is it antibacterial?

The Listerine Antiseptic mouthwash range does provide disinfectant properties. These kill all types of microorganisms. The acidity of the mouthwash prevents their breeding and growth. This keeps the gums and teeth free of any infections. 

Listerine is also an antibacterial mouthwash. Antiseptic mouthwashes also have bactericidal properties. The antiseptic formula targets specific bacteria that cause gum diseases like gingivitis. 

Standard Listerine mouthwashes also have many antibacterial ingredients. These perform similar functions. 

Listerine mouthwash side effects

Listerine mouthwash can cause mild side effects, including a smarting pain from alcohol and other ingredients.

Excessive use of Listerine may actually worsen oral health. It kills good bacteria essential for the breakdown of food. This encourages the proliferation of unhealthy bacteria. So use it in moderation.

The alcohol in Listerine may also increase dry mouth symptoms. The mouthwash may cause heightened redness or gum irritation. People with heart and kidney ailments should take medical advice before use. 

Opt for the non-alcohol version to minimize side effects. If pain, sensitivity, or bleeding persists it may point to a deeper infection. Consult your dentist in such cases. 

Does Listerine mouthwash whiten teeth?

Yes, Listerine Mouthwash can help to whiten teeth. Using a mouthwash can add brightness to dull teeth. But Listerine doesn’t have whitening properties in and of itself. It can only assist with routine oral care. You need to brush and floss for maximum effect. 

The Listerine Advanced White and Healthy White Vibrant Mouthwashes are designed for whitening. They use hydrogen peroxide for bleaching. But they are not freely available in the US. 

The ranges available in the United States can help remove external stains. But it might not be as effective.

Does Listerine mouthwash stain teeth? 

Some Listerine varieties like Green 3, Red 40, and Blue 1 contain dyes that can stain temporarily; soon after rinsing.

Even the essential oils may cause stains. Eucalyptus and thymol may stain your teeth yellow. You can limit the use of Listerine to the night. At night, there is less food particle exposure. Interactions between chemicals and food particles decline at this time.  So stains are also minimized.

Can we use Listerine mouthwash daily? 

Yes, you can use Listerine mouthwash daily. It can be a regular addition to your everyday oral hygiene routine. Swirl around some Listerine after brushing and flossing. It removes remaining germs. It leaves your breath smelling fresh and crisp. 

If you have lesions and blisters, ask a dentist about the recommended frequency. If you have acidic saliva, Listerine may make things worse. Adopt a frequency that works for your dental needs. You must hydrate well and eat healthily. This will maximize the impact of the Listerine. 

Is Listerine Mouthwash safe during pregnancy?

Listerine mouthwash is quite safe during pregnancy. Avoid the alcohol-based mouthwash though, since alcohol exposure isn’t healthy for the fetus. It may cause birth defects. The risk is very low unless swallowed. 

The alcohol-free versions are gentler. Expecting mothers are also extra sensitive. If ingested, essential oils could be harmful. Eucalyptus oil may retard the baby’s development. 

Other ingredients like fluoride are very helpful. They help re-strengthen teeth. The acidity from morning sickness can erode the enamel. The fluoride replenishes the mineral content.  

Dental hygiene becomes even more crucial during pregnancy. Listerine keeps gums and teeth healthy and strong during this delicate stage.

As long as you do not ingest the mouthwash, it is safe to use Listerine when pregnant. 

Is Listerine mouthwash safe with braces?

Yes, Listerine mouthwash is safe with braces. Not just safe, it is very effective. It will help remove food fragments stuck in nooks. These areas are hard to reach with brushes and floss. Having braces only makes removal harder.

Listerine doesn’t damage the metal or clear braces. Alcohol-based Listerine might increase pain from braces. The Listerine fluoride rinses prevent spotting or discoloration under the braces. So when they come off, your teeth are not unevenly colored.

Is Listerine mouthwash safe after tooth extraction?

You should avoid using Listerine mouthwash after tooth extraction. The alcohol and other ingredients can interrupt healing. They will dry out the site of the extraction. This raises the chance of irritation and itchiness.

It may also cause bleeding. Listerine can rupture the blood clot. It can also sting because gum tissue is exposed and sore.

Your dentists may permit usage after 24-48 hours. But ideally, you should wait for a few weeks. This allows complete recovery. You can opt for a warm saltwater rinse during this period.

Is Listerine mouthwash safe for dogs? 

No, Listerine mouthwash is not safe for dogs. The alcohol, menthol, and essential oils are very toxic. It causes stomach upsets, nausea, and dizziness. It can cause a burning feeling in their stomach. It may also cause intestinal blockage or ruptures.  

Don’t use Listerine to wash your dogs either. Other compounds like SLS, fluoride, and dyes are also harmful. It is best to stick to dog-specific mouthwashes. Listerine isn’t life-threatening. But it may hurt their organs. They may also vomit everything out, leading to fatigue. 

How effective is Listerine mouthwash?

Listerine mouthwash is fairly effective. It removes almost 99% of all germs in the mouth. It also gets rid of approximately 60% extra plaque. This plaque would have remained if you only brushed it.

Listerine can only tackle external symptoms. It cannot address underlying diseases. It doesn’t prevent or reverse tooth decay. But it can keep it from getting worse. Listerine mouthwash is most effective a couple of hours after brushing. This optimizes the antimicrobial action. 

Why does Listerine’s mouthwash burn? 

Listerine mouthwash burns because it contains alcohol. The alcohol-free ranges contain menthol. This also prompts a tingling sensation. So can essential oils like eucalyptus. The burn is usually just a light prickly feeling.

If the sensation becomes painful you may have an allergy. Your gum tissue may also be hypersensitive. Or you may be using an excess of the instructed amount. It is usually about 3-5 teaspoons per use. This can be repeated twice a day. 

Is Listerine mouthwash good for canker sores and ulcers? 

Yes, Listerine mouthwash is good for treating canker sores and ulcers. Canker sores are also called aphthous ulcers. Listerine can also treat viral ulcers such as those from hepatitis.  

But rinsing will hurt quite a bit. The mouthwash may cause a stinging pain at the site.  But it kills bacteria in the raw, tender areas. It leaves it sanitized. It prevents the further spread of the infection.  Over time it should lessen the pain.

Listerine cannot stop a relapse. They may be due to underlying vitamin deficiencies, smoking, improper diet, or medical treatments like chemotherapy. 

Avoid alcohol-based Listerine. It can dehydrate the mouth and reduce saliva. This is not a good condition for healing.

Is Listerine mouthwash good for toothaches? 

Listerine mouthwash can provide short-term relief from toothaches. The Listerine Sensitivity mouthwash helps to reduce throbbing aches. Toothaches happen because of decay, cavities, or sensitivity. Sensitivity exposes dentinal tubules which cover the nerves. 

This exposure leads to pain because the area is exposed. Listerine cannot address the root cause. But it can numb the pain for about 24 hours. It can reduce inflammation for a while. 

You may have to get dental procedures like a root canal or fillings. If the pain is because of an immediate injury, Listerine can help lull it.

Is Listerine mouthwash good for gingivitis and gum disease? 

Listerine mouthwashes are a great option to combat gingivitis and other gum diseases. Listerine also combats periodontitis. This gum infection can completely damage your jawbone. It leads to significant tooth loss. 

You can use the Ultra Clean Antiseptic or Zero Cool Mint. 

Listerine gets rid of all germs and bacteria. It also removes plaque deposits on the surface and roots. Toothbrushes can’t reach these tucked-in crannies. Brushes may also hurt tender gums. Mouthwash can assist, especially if your gums are already bruised and bleeding.  

Is Listerine Mouthwash good for bad breath? 

Listerine mouthwash is good for bad breath. It masks bad odors that stem from halitosis. But it doesn’t address the causes. Halitosis or bad breath can be caused by a range of factors. These include poor hygiene, diet, or infections. 

If it’s just because of garlic or because you forgot to brush, Listerine can be a quick fix. It may also help with dry-mouth-induced halitosis. But something serious like kidney or liver disease can also cause malodor. These illnesses need to be medically treated to get rid of the smell.  

Is Listerine Mouthwash good for oral thrush? 

Listerine mouthwash can help to tackle oral thrush. It may be enough for mild cases and can be used with yogurt, probiotics, or lozenges. These promote the growth of good bacteria that attack the fungus. You can also top it up with popsicles. Cold items can reduce discomfort and ease the white patches.

But for severe cases, you will require antifungal drugs. Some yeast infections may require stronger antibiotics. Chlorhexidine mouthwashes may be more effective for some people. So you can choose between these and Listerine to address oral thrush. 

Is Listerine Mouthwash good for toenail fungus? 

Listerine mouthwash isn’t the right option for toenail fungus. It does have antifungal and antibacterial properties. These can help to clean out the affected area. It also softens scales and dry, cracked skin. 

But it won’t prevent a recurrence. Especially if the fungus is caused by infections. You will need a dermatologically-approved cream or ointment. The cream will absorb deeply into the nail bed. Only this can root out the growth fully. 

At best, Listerine can be a pre-treatment. The essential oils can help alleviate pain. But don’t use Listerine on open cuts or psoriasis-affected skin.  

Don’t let your easily resolvable dental issues stand in the way of a great social life. Get a bottle of Listerine and let them see you smile!



Anand Srinivasan
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