Listerine: Not Worth The Trouble

If you’re like me, we used whatever was given to us growing up. If it was soap, shampoo, toilet paper, or mouthwash, we pretty much had no choice. And for many years, your choices in mouthwash were either Scope or Listerine.

But as awareness of mouthwash has increased, so have your options; however, Listerine still seems to be the brand most people think about when they hear the word “mouthwash.”

The bad news is, the burning, bad taste is still the thought that comes to most people’s mind when they think of Listerine. The worse news? The taste may just be the tip of the iceberg.

For the purist in natural living, the question that must be asked is, “Is Listerine still my mouthwash of choice?”.

The short answer is a resounding NO. Listerine has been around for decades, but while the company has tried to improve its image by coming out with different flavors, the main ingredients remain the same… with the most noxious and unsafe ingredients being the alcohols.

The alcohols in Listerine (and in Scope and other store-branded bottles) cause a drying effect in the mouth. That’s the burning sensation you feel that ultimately makes you want to spit sooner than later. It is also that  drying power that naturally causes more cells to die, resulting in an increased probability of having oral cancer.

So combining the horrid taste with the increased risks of cancer, we give Listerine or any mouthwash containing alcohol a big thumbs down. Stay far away from these.

We recommend alcohol-free mouthwashes, preferably ones containing the active ingredient stabilized chlorine dioxide.

For more information about the highly recommended rinse we use in the office, please use the contact form to send us an email. Breath Doctor mouthwash is a stable, natural mouth rinse that is incredibly effective in killing bacteria safely.

If you’re still not convinced, read through some of the comments below and discover some real life stories from other readers who have had experiences with Listerine.


  1. I noticed i had a build up of plaque so i bought some listerine mouthwash. I have used it twice a day as instructed for the last week and the first thing i started to notice was that my lips went really dry and my cheeks felt sore .. now ive noticed that my gums are swolen and instead of being pinky red they are purpley with yellowy patches .. i can only put this down to the mouthwash. But now i know from reading that alcohol based mouthwashes are bad. No more listerine for me!

  2. we should use the mouthwash for the daily oral care protects our mouth from germs . I am using Listerine mouthwash for my oral hygiene.

  3. Have always steered clear of the alcoholic mouthwash, just as easy to have a good brush! Although the convenience of mouthwash can appeal to some on the go, surely it isn’t worth the risks?

  4. I have a friend who recently had a veneer come off. She knows I have veneers as well and wanted to tell me about several websites from dentists she found that stated that alcohol mouthwash is the worst for the bonding between veneers/crowns and the natural tooth. Can you believe that dentists have never told her or me about this being a possibility???? Maybe it is because they are hoping it happens to bring them more patient cases=money. UGHHHHHH. Frustrating. She had to pay to have it rebounded, yet it could have possibly been prevented.

  5. K so I just recently used listeriene the purple kind and noticed it becoming surgery then anything ! And I haven’t found any related issues on the internet- anyone else have this prob?

  6. hobocat Says: July 23, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    well everything else causes cancer so im not really too worried about. in fact seeing as how many things can cause cancer i should be really really sick by now… weird…

  7. Charles Says: May 7, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Anyone who believes ANY finding of the FDA is a complete MORON. The FDA says flouride is safe & necessary for teeth; which we ALL know is BS, a grand LIE, & unecessary to & for human consumption. The FDA gave the world rat poison artificial sweeteners, approved drugs that kill-not heal, as well as chlorinated & flouridated tap water (also unecessary for good oral health). We Americans are the dumbest ever. Start using 100% ORGANIC ORAL HEALTH PRODUCTS & ditch the man made chemical crap that may or may not kill you. What sheeple we are. Green tea products also have UNNECESSARY FLOURIDE IN IT TOO! DO SOME RESERACH …SMH AT SHEEPLE…..

    • Michelle Says: July 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      I do believe that many products passed by the FDA are awful, however, fluoride is not one of them. As a dental hygienist, fluoride is a huge factor in how well we control dental decay especially in children.

      • Shahriyar Imanov Says: July 16, 2014 at 8:07 am

        And even high school student knows how active Chlorine and Fluorine are – have you forgotten that? Have you also forgotten what can two most electronegative (i.e. the most active) halogens in periodic table do to any substance? Its basic chemistry mate, you don’t need to be a doctor or chemist to realize that!

        • omg! flouride [F-] is an ione not a free radical [F] wandering around and reacting with random substances… as someone who claims to have some high school knowledge, I’d expect you to know that flouride [F-] is already in its most stable state which means it DOES NOT LIKE to get hitched and lose its extra electron hence it doesn’t react easily ….get your facts straight shahriyar moronov!

  8. waterbottle Says: April 2, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    Actually, this article is completely false. Listerine is ADA approved:

    This means, it is safe and harmless. If it really caused oral cancer like all of these people that think it does, you wrong. Sorry. The ADA does a lot of testing on products to see if it’s safe. It is their job to inform people on what products are harmful and listerine is not one of them. It doesn’t cause oral cancer. Listerine would get sued big time and the ADA/FDA (whoever allows hygeine products to be sold to the public) wouldn’t let the pubkic have access to Listerine.

    • Some-BHav Says: April 15, 2014 at 6:48 pm

      Dude it is ADA accepted not approved (That means that:

      Listerine: Hey ADA see i have created a mouth freshener, and i am mentioning it removed plague and bad breath
      ADA : OK i accept that

      And Listerine has been sued in australia for suppressing results and tests finding link between use of alcoholic mouth freshener and oral cancer, See wikipedia as per Australian dental they have enough evidence for it but Listerine has been trying to suppress our sale.

      Do some google you will find it

      And being a dentist i conclude avoid it, you can go for some non alcoholic brands (NO Name in specific, not doing publicity)

  9. I got my tongue pierced a few days ago and I had been using the Listerine that contains alcohol. I was using it every time after I ate, first thing in the morning, and before bed. Needless to say, my entire mouth feels like it’s burning. What can I do to soothe it? Thank you.

    • callahan Says: July 26, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      I’m sure you have figured it out by now….but even after the piercing has healed…dilute your mouth wash 50% water 50% mouthwash to help with irritation and burning

  10. I just had my tongue pierced and was using the Listerine containing alcohol every time after I ate, int he morning, and before bed. Needless to say, my entire mouth feels like it’s burning. What can I do to help soothe it? Thank you.

    • Shahriyar Imanov Says: July 16, 2014 at 8:31 am

      Use something WITHOUT chlorhexidine and WITHOUT alcohol. I heard something called “Crest Pro Health” is such a product. Biotene products also should be alcohol free.

  11. I was doing the listerine challenge till my mouth and tongue latterly felt like it was on fire and I looked and it seemed like it was eating the skin on the bottom of my tongue now I’m not sure if my mouth is rittled with cankers or if I have mouth cancer

  12. I’ve also been using Listerine for years (I grew up using it) and it doesn’t burn that long (for me). Usually it goes away after about 7 seconds. I wonder if I could just be getting used to it, or it goes hand in hand with my tolerance for really spicy foods. I’m 18, a non-smoker, vegan, and I don’t drink. FYI. (dunno if that helps) but what do you think could be causing this effect (or lack there of)?



  13. Good Grief Says: October 21, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    “stabilized chlorine dioxide”
    What the hell will THAT stuff do to you if you use it long enough?

  14. Nina Morrison Says: October 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    I had been using Listerine for a number of years on and off and the burning sensation in my mouth was very unpleasant, I thought it was my toothpaste as it was quite strong but it was only recently that I realised Listerine was the cause of skin coming away from inside my mouth, I’m not sure what caused this as I changed toothpaste and then to Listerine sensitive and one that is alcohol free. The problem still persisted until I gave up using Listerine altogether

    • Thanks for the comment Nina. We have seen and heard the same thing. It us usually the alcohol that dries out the mouth and causes “sloughing” of the soft tissues. But it is not unheard of to have that condition with non-alcoholic mouthwashes. Alcohol is not the only harmful ingredient in off-the-shelf mouthwashes… you have artificial colorings, flavorings, and sweeteners to watch out for, too.

  15. i bumped into this post while googling..Currently I have this Listerine Natural Green Tea mouthwash which claimed that it does not contains alcohol. does this means it’s safe to use?

    After using my gum does not bleed anymore..I am not sure if this is good or bad! Advise is highly appreciated.

    • Is Listerine Natural Green Tea mouthwash safe to use?

      Probably not. Have you noticed how the big manufacturers are making “natural” products now? Of course…to make people buy it and think that they’re not safe.

      Granted they may be SAFER but “safe to use for everyone” is not a claim that I would endorse.

      Everyone is different and could be sensitive to any of the ingredients inside the mouthwash.

      No bleeding after swishing is not a reason to continue or discontinue use of a mouthwash. See your dentist and check to make sure your technique for flossing and brushing is accurate. Also check your diet as bleeding gums is a symptom of poor diet.

      • Jim Palazzolo Says: May 10, 2014 at 10:11 am

        “Probably not”. Is that a clinical term or more of the Green! Gooooooooood, FDA Baaaaaaaaaddddd! nonsense touted as the new OneWorld mantra?

      • Dalissa Crump Says: July 16, 2014 at 7:17 pm

        Is Sensodyne mouth rinse a good product to use? I’m watching from Listerine to a different mouth rinse, couldn’t handle the burning sensation any longer. But I have sensitive teeth and gums and I want to make sure that using Sensodyne products are safe to use.

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