Disclaimer: The information in the article isn't intended to diagnose, treat or cure any known or unknown disease or illness.

Can You Get Drunk From Mouthwash: Myths Busted

Can you get drunk from mouthwash? Discover the surprising truth and the potential health risks involved.

April 28, 2024

Understanding Alcohol in Mouthwash

To debunk the myth about getting drunk from mouthwash, one must first understand the alcohol content in mouthwash and other chemicals present.

Alcohol Content in Mouthwash

Mouthwash contains a significant amount of alcohol, specifically ethanol, which is the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine, and spirits. The ethanol content in mouthwash can vary, usually ranging from 18 to 26.9%, and is used either as a solvent or an antiseptic [2].

When ingested in large amounts, this ethanol can cause intoxication similar to that from alcoholic drinks, leading to symptoms like dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and even organ damage.

Mouthwash Ethanol Content (%)
Brand A 22
Brand B 26.9
Brand C 18
Brand D 24

Other Chemicals in Mouthwash

While mouthwash does contain around 20-27% alcohol, it's not safe to drink due to the other chemicals present. These can include essential oils, hydrogen peroxide, and methyl salicylate.

These chemicals, when ingested, can lead to alcohol poisoning if ingested excessively, resulting in symptoms like dizziness, confusion, low blood pressure, and even coma.

All things considered, it's clear that while mouthwash does contain alcohol, it's not intended for ingestion. The high levels of alcohol combined with other potentially harmful chemicals make it a dangerous substance if misused. Therefore, the question of "can you get drunk from mouthwash" should be reframed to highlight the dangers and risks associated with such an act.

Consequences of Drinking Mouthwash

While mouthwash is a common household item and is used to maintain oral hygiene, it's important to understand its potential health risks when misused. A common myth is that you can get drunk from mouthwash due to its alcohol content, however, the consequences of ingesting mouthwash are severe and can lead to dangerous health conditions.

Immediate Effects of Consumption

When consumed in large quantities, mouthwash can cause immediate adverse effects, ranging from mild to severe. Such effects may include confusion, dizziness, and drowsiness. In severe cases, it can cause respiratory depression, coma, or even death due to its high alcohol and chemical content.

In addition to these effects, the person may also experience symptoms of intoxication, similar to the effects of consuming large amounts of alcohol. However, unlike alcoholic beverages, mouthwash is not intended for internal use and its consumption can lead to severe medical emergencies.

Long-Term Health Risks

The long-term health risks associated with mouthwash consumption are equally concerning. Chronic ingestion of mouthwash for its alcohol content not only poses risks due to the ethanol and methanol but can also result in a range of health issues. These include liver disease, kidney failure, and nerve damage [2].

Furthermore, the long-term consumption of mouthwash can lead to severe health consequences such as respiratory depression, cardiovascular issues, and neurological impairments.

Despite being an accessible source of alcohol, the risks associated with consuming mouthwash far outweigh any potential benefits of intoxication, making it a dangerous practice [1].

In conclusion, while mouthwash does contain alcohol, it is not safe to consume in an attempt to achieve intoxication. The immediate and long-term health risks associated with this practice are severe and potentially fatal. It is highly advised to use mouthwash only as directed for oral hygiene and to seek immediate medical attention if it is consumed in large quantities.

Dangers of Mouthwash Poisoning

Ingesting mouthwash is a hazardous practice due to its high alcohol content and the presence of other chemicals intended for oral use, not consumption. Understanding the symptoms and treatment options for mouthwash poisoning can be crucial in situations where a person consumes mouthwash to achieve intoxication.

Symptoms of Mouthwash Poisoning

Mouthwash poisoning can lead to a range of symptoms, from physical discomfort to severe health issues. Warning signs of mouthwash poisoning include:

  • Depression of the central nervous system
  • Hypothermia
  • Vomiting
  • Throat pain
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Coma

In severe cases, mouthwash poisoning can even result in death. Moreover, the high alcohol content in mouthwash can cause rapid intoxication and has the potential to lead to alcohol poisoning, particularly when consumed in large quantities.

Treatment for Mouthwash Poisoning

Immediate medical attention is crucial in cases of mouthwash poisoning. Treatment typically involves managing the symptoms and may include intravenous fluids, oxygen therapy, and medication to reverse the effects of the poison.

Furthermore, individuals who regularly consume mouthwash for its alcohol content may benefit from addiction treatment programs. Such programs can provide the necessary resources and support to break the cycle of addiction and avoid the severe health consequences associated with consuming mouthwash.

While mouthwash is a common household item, its misuse can lead to serious health issues. The question "can you get drunk from mouthwash" should be replaced with "what are the dangers of getting drunk from mouthwash." Education and awareness about the risks of mouthwash poisoning, and the importance of using mouthwash as intended, can help prevent the dangerous practice of consuming mouthwash.

Mouthwash Consumption and Alcohol Addiction

The misuse of mouthwash due to its alcohol content is a significant concern, particularly for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction.

Mouthwash as a Substitute for Alcohol

In rare cases, individuals with alcohol addiction might resort to drinking mouthwash due to its alcohol content, with some products containing up to 27% alcohol. This misuse is prevalent among individuals battling alcohol addiction since mouthwash contains a high percentage of ethyl alcohol, which can lead to intoxication. However, this misuse of mouthwash can be life-threatening due to the high levels of alcohol present.

Mouthwash is easily accessible and lacks the regulation applied to alcoholic beverages, making it an attractive option for those struggling with alcohol addiction. Despite the dangers, some alcoholics may resort to drinking mouthwash when other sources of alcohol are not accessible, thereby contributing to the cycle of addiction and increasing health risks.

Dangers of Alcohol Dependence

Consuming mouthwash to get drunk is a clear sign of alcohol dependence and should be addressed by seeking professional treatment and assistance. It can lead to addiction, create health complications, and significantly impact one's overall well-being.

Ingesting mouthwash to get drunk is considered a form of alcohol abuse, as it involves the consumption of a substance not meant for internal use, which can result in harmful effects on the body and overall health. The misuse of mouthwash for alcohol consumption underscores a potential public health concern, emphasizing the importance of educating individuals about the dangers of ingesting products not intended for internal use and promoting responsible alcohol consumption practices [6].

Drinking mouthwash can lead to severe health complications, including damaging the lining of the stomach, causing ulcers, leading to kidney failure, and can even be life-threatening due to the presence of toxic chemicals such as methyl alcohol. The absorption rate of alcohol in mouthwash is rapid, leading to a quick spike in blood alcohol levels, putting individuals at risk for alcohol poisoning even with a small amount of ingested mouthwash.

The misuse of mouthwash highlights the urgent need for proper treatment and support for individuals struggling with alcohol dependence. It's crucial to seek professional help if you or someone you know is drinking mouthwash to get drunk. There are numerous resources available to assist individuals in overcoming addiction and embracing a healthier lifestyle.

Safe Use of Mouthwash

In light of the potential dangers of mouthwash ingestion and intoxication, it's critical to emphasize the importance of using mouthwash safely and responsibly. This includes understanding the proper way to use and store mouthwash, as well as exploring alternatives to alcohol-based mouthwash.

Proper Use and Storage of Mouthwash

Mouthwash should be used as directed on the product label. Generally, this involves swishing a small amount in the mouth for about 30 seconds and then spitting it out. It's important to remember that mouthwash is not intended to be swallowed. Ingesting mouthwash can lead to alcohol intoxication and exposure to harmful chemicals, with potential health effects such as liver damage, kidney failure, and seizures.

In addition to using mouthwash properly, it's also important to store it safely. Keep mouthwash out of reach of children and anyone who might be tempted to drink it for its alcohol content. If you suspect someone has ingested mouthwash intentionally or unintentionally, seek medical help immediately.

Alternatives to Alcohol-Based Mouthwash

Given the concerns about the alcohol content in mouthwash and the risks associated with ingestion, it's worth considering alcohol-free alternatives. These products can provide the same benefits as traditional mouthwash, such as freshening breath and reducing oral bacteria, without the risk of alcohol intoxication.

There are a number of alcohol-free mouthwashes available on the market, including brands that use natural ingredients like aloe vera, mint, and tea tree oil. Some people also opt for homemade solutions, such as a mixture of water and baking soda.

Switching to an alcohol-free mouthwash can be particularly beneficial for individuals who are in recovery from alcohol addiction. This can help to eliminate potential triggers and avoid the temptation to misuse mouthwash as a source of alcohol.

In conclusion, while it's possible to get drunk from mouthwash, the health risks associated with this practice make it highly inadvisable. By using mouthwash safely and responsibly, and considering alcohol-free alternatives, we can enjoy the benefits of mouthwash without putting our health at risk.


[1]: https://lagunatreatment.com/alcohol-abuse/drinking-mouthwash/

[2]: https://www.cwcrecovery.com/blog/the-dangers-of-drinking-mouthwash/

[3]: https://www.healthline.com/health/what-happens-if-you-swallow-mouthwash

[4]: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/poison/mouthwash-overdose

[5]: https://vertavahealth.com/alcohol/drunk-from-mouthwash/

[6]: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/14984634/

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