It freshens your breath. It helps you fight gum disease, tooth decay and plaque. It even whitens your teeth. But what would it do to you if, instead of spitting your mouthwash out, you swallowed it?
How much mouthwash could you safely drink? How much mouthwash would it take to kill you? And why could drinking mouthwash make you drunk?
We haven’t always had clean teeth and fresh breath. But we have certainly tried. Some Ancient cultures used charcoal, fruit and dried flowers to get rid of morning breath. The Romans thought using urine was the best way to disinfect and whiten their teeth. I definitely wouldn’t want to try that. Ugh.
There is evidence that earlier in our history we rinsed our mouths with tortoise blood to help prevent toothaches. No tortoise was harmed during the making of this video. Compared to these methods, we were quite progressive during medieval times, when a mint and vinegar rinsing solution freshened people’s bad breath. I wouldn’t want to swallow Roman mouthwash, accidentally or otherwise. But today’s mouthwash, I’d try that. What’s the worst thing that could happen?
Mouthwash, as you know it, was invented in the late 1800’s. Instead of the urine or tortoise blood of old days, today’s mouthwash contains a bunch of chemicals that freshen your breath, whiten your teeth and make your mouth germ-free.
Mouthwash contains chlorhexidine, hydrogen peroxide and methyl salicylate. But the idea of swallowing this cocktail doesn’t sound that good to me. What about you? Let’s take it slow, one gulp at a time.
Let’s say you accidentally swallow a little mouthwash. The worst you’d experience is an upset stomach. This is because of fluoride, a chemical that can make you run to your restroom. So, that’s not a big deal. Now, how about you drink a little more?
Drinking an entire bottle of mouthwash would most likely give you seizures. It would also make you very drunk.
The mouthwash contains about 27% alcohol. This is higher than the alcohol content of fortifed wine, which is usually between 17% and 20%. And if you had hand sanitizer on hand, mixing that with mouthwash would be like drinking five shots of hard liquor. But don’t get too excited. Getting drunk on Listerine is a very bad idea.
That’s because the ethanol found in mouthwash can cause ulcers and liver problems. And the methanol, which is also part of your mouthwash cocktail, is poisonous and can be lethal. And methyl alcohol can cause blindness, organ failure and even death.
If you drank down 3 liters (100 oz) of your mouthwash all at once, you’d have no chance of survival. It would be Game Over! But if you, completely by accident, swallowed enough mouthwash to make you sick, don’t make yourself vomit. Like with poison, throwing up would only make things worse, it would bring the chemicals back in contact with the throat and food pipe. You’d need to go to the hospital as soon as possible. Seriously, stop the video right now and see a doctor immediately. Don’t waste time searching for medical advice from strangers on the internet.
- “Dos And Don’ts Of Mouth Rinsing“. 2021. Webmd.
- “The History Of Mouthwash”. Mouthwash, The. 2021. Oral-B.
- ” A Brief History Of Mouthwash – Spear Education”. Prichard, Denise. 2021. speareducation.com.
- “What Happens If You Swallow Mouthwash? Symptoms, Treatment”. 2021. Healthline.
- “Should you induce vomiting for poisoning?” firstaidforfree.com.
- “Healthfully”. 2021. Healthfully.