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. How come no one is talking about too much antiseptic mouthwash from a ph level or from a balancing level ? I used to get sick often and i stopped using thelisterine and havent been that sick, ive learned with my daily swish i was actually killing off some of the “protectors” in my mouth, cleaning the mouth too much with a germ killer can leave your mouth wide open for a “bug”.

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  4. Justin W Says: March 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    The true key to a healthy mouth and teeth revolves around WHAT YOU EAT. Healthy food = healthy mouth. Do you need to use toothepaste when you brush? Technically you don’t, it’s the brushing action that cleans, the toothepaste simply helps. Do you need to use mouthwash? Technically no, but it helps.

    Eat healthy, floss, brush with a protective toothepaste, then rinse with a flouride rinse. In that order.

  5. Aimlink Says: March 1, 2013 at 7:52 am

    I’ve read the posts here with some interest. I’ve read a lot and experienced a lot with regard to mouthwashes. All I’d advise at this point is to trust your own experience. If you’ve experienced a distinct benefit then do not let the negative experiences of others throw you in doubt or denial. Listen to another’s unique experience with caution.

    I’m currently in my 40’s and am wearing braces. I had a ‘flossing accident’ where I injured my gum. Soon enough, the area got very inflamed. I was using Closys and a fluoride rinse. NO ALCOHOL. Ha! The situation waxed and waned but inexorably worsened over a 3 week period. I used to use regular listerine, but had stopped because I thought it didn’t help.

    Anyway, I got desperate and added regular listerine to my regime. I would do the following
    – floss,
    – then rinse with Closys,
    – then brush,
    – then rinse with Listerine
    – then finally rinse with a non-alcohol fluoride rinse

    Quite the ritual, I know, but for the previous three weeks, I was doing all the above minus using the Listerine.

    Within 2 days I was MUCH, MUCH better. Within 2 weeks I was fine since I did have quite a large area of inflammed gumline. I just had a dental cleaning yesterday and was OK, including my gum health.

    After all that I’ve experienced and researched:

    I don’t really care about petri-dish tests or how manufacturers choose to market their mouthwashes. We really don’t understand fully how these things work and we tend to cherry pick single factors and hinge overall effectiveness of a particular product on whether or not a single claim about the product is true or not. Listerine played a decisive role in getting my gum back to health. I’m not saying that it worked alone or that it worked by killing bacteria. All I can say is that my routine without Listerine was not working and that as soon as I added Listerine to my overall routine, I got results.

    Yes, Listerine may be harmful as a post-rinse that’s left in your mouth. But what about its effectiveness if used in conjunction with a neutralizing fluoride rinse as a final rinse????

    There’s no current magic bullet to dental health. Brushing and flossing isn’t the only answer. We keep bringing up the lack of evidence that mouthwashes work and yet, I’d love to see the evidence that flossing works!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Very few out there are aware that there is no hard evidence by study that flossing prevents cavities. I am most amusedly thinking of an 80+ yr old with all her teeth and no cavities who is actually not a fan of brushing. She is into mouthwashes and prefers rinsing to brushing…. Go figure that one out. We tend to ignore such individuals, rather than study them.

    The road to good dental health is very likely a multifactorial one and very personal one. Trying to prove that a single factor in such a heterogenous population is effective or not can be challenging. It’s very destructive and rob many of meaningful solutions simply because this challenge exists. It would be silly of me to start pontificating that flossing is useless for all in the prevention of cavities since its benefit has not been demonstrated through scientific studies. Yes, we’ve benefited a lot from the scientific method, but we can’t be shackled by it either. The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, I do listen to evidence and read it carefully, but I won’t go into denial either when I’ve had a distinct experience.

    I have no idea how Listerine helped me. I will not contest the microbiological tests shared here, but I would contend that Listerine may well work in other ways that can be beneficial and that aren’t being tested. I would contend as well that Listerine does not always help. I don’t really care much exactly how it helped me, but I plan to continue using it. I have chosen to use it in a specific way to offset it’s drawback, i.e., the drying effect when used as a final rinse.

    As a final note, what got me into using mouthwashes was the bitter disappointment I experienced when I still got a cavity while diligently flossing and brushing while sucking up the lofty claims that mouthwashes don’t work. The cavity was on the interdental surface of a tooth. I found that ironic since I’d never really flossed as much before. Though I know there’s no good evidence that flossing really works, I still continue to do so as I use my mouthwashes. I have more conviction about the mouthwashes than about flossing based on personal experience.

    • George Burdell Says: March 9, 2013 at 10:17 pm

      The ADA recommends Listerine Antiseptic used as directed based on well-documented clinical studies. Please read the research papers thoroughly before claiming there is no evidence.

      Further, a small portion of the population are not infected with the bacteria that causes caries (Strep. mutans) which then causes cavities. No amount of sugar will change that portion of their oral health.

      Also, flossing can help prevent cavities, but it is primarily for promoting periodontal health (healthy gums with no bone loss).

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  7. my tongue always pain like pinching with pin, and getting a very bad smell even i brush twice and using mouthwash twice (listerine)……
    please help me……..

  8. I saw in a response that you use baking soda. I have been studying products with glycerin and what constitutes a clean mouth. The main thing I am running across is; Do not use baking soda as it scratches and wears down your enamel .

  9. Hi. I have been using alcoholic mouthwashs ( Listerine & colgate product) for the past six months but they seem not working. Bad breath can go after rensing, but in two or so hours the breath is not good. I use fossil and one of my holed teeth give this smell which doen’t go away easly. Is there any other option which can help. I start experiencing this last six months.

  10. Cl02 is NOT 100% all-natural and will decompose violently if separated from dilutants. Its production pathway involves a rather unpleasant industrial method and no matter what the end product is it is not sourced from “nature” as you claim it is. If you’re going to market a product then market it well. While treatment of water with Cl02 has been widely shown to be an extremely effective way of killing microbes that exist in it, there is no evidence that heavily diluted Cl02 is going to do anything at ALL to the microbes on your tongue, and its use as a bleach concerns me greatly. If it exists in your mouthwash above a concentration of 0.8 ug/mL it’s not even safe to be consuming regularly. You really could have tried harder to market this idiotic mouthwash, or at least provided PROPER evidence showing that your product works. I’m not unprepared to believe Cl02 doesn’t have useful properties in terms of mouth cleansing, but it’d sure be nice if you’d give even a tiny amount of ACTUAL EVIDENCE. Capitalising “volatile sulfur compounds” doesn’t count.
    Also, the spelling mistake in your article is “iceburg”, since you seemed so keen to know. Gotta keep that credibility maxed out, right? 😉

    • Also, you can’t kill “volatile sulfur compounds”. SULFUR COMPOUNDS ARE NOT LIVING THINGS.

    • “Miracle mineral supplement (MMS)”. It’s a study about a group of people who DRINK ClO2 daily. We’re only gargling a capful at a time, yet it’s safe enough to swallow. ClO2 aka: chlorine dioxide (stabilized) is one part chlorate (from Sodium Chlorate aka: salt) and two parts Oxygen.

      In laymans terms, we are Oxidizing the sulfur compounds that cause bad breath. Wouldn’t oxygen be considered “natural”? What about the trace element – salt? Deionized water and peppermint extract aren’t natural?

      As for studies and evidence, we have so many studies from the dental to agricultural industry. Question is which one? Apparently you didn’t look to see if any research has been done before you posted.

      Remember, this is a dental practice website. Do you go to every dentist’s website in the United States and question the products that they make available to their patients? Just curious… seems like an interesting use of time. But, I will be sure to post more details for you shortly, as we should be more clear about what is in the product and I appreciate you pointing that out to us.

      PS: Thanks for finding our typos — we must be the only only dental practice out there that has a typo on their site, but luckily, we will be much more credible now 😉

    • By the way, I’m not SELLING any product in this post. The article is about avoiding mouthwash that contains alcohol. You can use whatever you want, but when people ask what we recommend, we suggest something with stabilized ClO2. There are MANY products on the market that use it — not just the one that we sell in our office. As you may or may not have noticed, we don’t sell products on this website. It’s for informational purposes.

  11. Hi Dr Marvin,
    Can you please tell me about bad breath? Is tongue cleaning is necessary? I brush twice..

    • Yes, it’s necessary. A lot of bad breath starts on the back of the tongue where you can’t reach it with a toothbrush. When you breath it pushes your breath right over the bacteria and it comes out of your mouth smelling less than flowerly.

  12. what about these products CORSODYL, SENSODYNE or retarDEX mouthwash?

  13. I know that this thread is really old now but what would you say about the listerine mouthwash that contains no alcohol, would you recommend it or are there still problems with that?

    • I would ask why you need it? If it’s for fresh breath, I would recommend using a good tongue scraper to remove the bacteria from the very back of the tongue. Brush and floss well. That should prevent bad breath. If not, you may have some other dental problems that are causing it (cavities or infections).

  14. Marvella C. Says: August 28, 2012 at 2:10 am

    i have been using listerine about a month or so now and soon after i’ve started to use it,i have noticed my teeth starting to discolor and become transparent by the day…this worries me so much because i’ve have really good teeth and i am not willing to spend a huge amount of money on fixing them because where i live,getting your teeth to look good can cost you as much as buying a house!!!
    i really am in a fix as to what to do and would really appreciate some advice as to i can get my teeth to look good again…also,i think my gums became week…they are softer than they used to be… please do suggest…thank you…

    • Wow, that is one I haven’t heard before. I’m not sure there is a direct correlations between Listerine and transparent teeth. If your teeth are getting transparent, you are probably losing enamel… you should see your dentist and determine what’s causing it. I guess it’s possible that it’s the listerine, but I think that would be a pretty extreme case. Good luck!

  15. Hey Dr. Marvin. I have a terrible teeth stain due to drinking a lot of coffee and lack of brushing. It’s not just yellow but it looks like it’s pretty thick stain(by the way I’m currently wearing braces). I tried to get rid of it by brushing twice a day and flossing but it does not work. Do you have any suggestion? Please list all the possible solution. Thank you!

    • To answer Johnny above, I highly recommend baking soda to help with the stains. Ive been brushing my teeth by wetting my toothbrush and putting a small amount of baking soda on the palm of my hand and I then scoop it up with my wet toothbrush. Baking Soda doesnt taste great but it is effective. I feel the surface of my teeth have less plaque and overall my mouth tastes cleaner. Im also saving on buying expensive whitening toothpaste products! I am seeing a difference in the color of my teeth too! Also to respond to the Listerine findings of the class..I find that so fascinating as Ive used Listerine all my life and lately the top of my mouth has felt sore and so I stopped using Listerine for the last few days so I think it has to do with the Listerine. I wont throw out the listerine and instead use it with baking soda to clean my brushes and combs (you might as well use it as a household cleaning agent in other words!)

  16. I found this really helpful. Thanks Dr Marvin for taking the time to write this and inform us.

  17. Gajanan Says: June 27, 2012 at 7:33 am

    I am a regular(once a day) user of standard Listerine and this post I found was very helpful to me. Going forward,for now I would use salt and water instead.
    Question-Do you suggest a specific Non alcohol mouth wash in lieu of Listerine.

  18. Christine Says: March 9, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    I use Listerine. However, I probably use it to 10 seconds and put a bit of water in it. The amount of Listerine isn’t that much either. Is this okay?

    • I don’t use Listerine at all, but I would recommend you read some of the other comments on this post and get a feel for what others think… I’m sure some other people would gladly chime in on your question!

  19. UNKNOWN Says: March 5, 2012 at 2:50 am

    LEXI, Americans are not the best Dentists!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  20. My dentist recommended Listerine mouthwash and I purchased the new purple bottle. Within 1 1/2 week of regular use… all food tastes have changed or disappeared….and when I looked in the mirror last night.. I had a HAIRY TONGUE!! I am heading to the dentist after school today!!! I most definitely will stop using the purple bottle.. just not sure now what is most effective and safe to use!!!

  21. I am using salt water..i.e., put some salt in the tab water, for mouthwash.
    It kills the bad breath and stops the bleeding.

  22. Hi! I just started using Listerine Whitening and my mouth and gums are killing me. Currently, half of my mouth feels like it’s covered in sores and it hurts so bad to floss my bottom 4 molars. (I floss 2+ times a day so my gums are very healthy and never bleed or get inflamed). Is it possible this mouthwash is the culprit? Yesterday, my face was throbbing which I attributed to a cold sore but now I’m not so sure. Thank you!

    • If this started happening as soon as you started using the mouthwash, I would suggest you stop using it to see if the situation reverses itself. It could be the mouthwash, you could be sick, or it could be an allergic reaction to something you ate. Start with the mouthwash and see what happens. Good luck!

  23. I am very sensitive for alcohol it gives me irregular heartbeat I Have used Listerine only two times and my irregular heartbeat has started again
    I think I will stay away from it now.

  24. hi doc
    i been using the market brands such as listerine qnd crest ever since i knew about mouthwash which had been about 8 years now. i didnt know about all these harmful effects caused from listerine and such. i began flossing two weeks ago and my gum bleeds so i use market branded mouthwash to stop the bleed after floss and i also have gingivites i believe its where your gum decreases in lenght and revealing further of the teeth. my teeth is also yellow and i do like to whiten them. also i used to have a crown on a tooth far inside my mouth, however the crown came off and i dont know what to do, it came off for about three years and was in place for about 8 months. so my question is what would you recommend in toothpaste, mouthwash, and how should i remove my gingivites maybe those waterpak. ps i dont have insurance for dental care : ( so i will need manual things to recover my teeth

  25. I have decided to go Organic… Alzheimers disease runs rampant on my moms side and I m starting with casual signs at 43…What do you recommend for toothpast and mouthwash, organic wise?

  26. Hi, I am really eager to whiten my teeth and wanted to know what DIY whitening kits you’d recommend? E.g- boots whitening kits, crest strips etc etc. I’ve use PlusWhite from the USA that I got sent over and it did work! It used peroxide and my gums felt sensitive after but I think that was because the mouth shield was a one for all fit and wasn’t very close fitting to my teeth. What are the crest whitening strips like? Also I’ve read through ALL of the comments on here and I use Listering.. I originally was using Dentyl which I loved and recently have switched. Is Dentyl good and if not which ones would you recommend in the U.K? Would love to hear from you! Many thanks

  27. Hello, Doctor.

    I have had many cavities, despite bruching often with flouride toothpastes and using various widely available mouthwashes. Recently, my dentist and I have haad success using a waterpik, chlorhexidine for the gums, and Therabreath products. Actually, I started using the Therabreath products in an effort to avoid having to use the chlorhexidine, because I was concerned about its long-term use.
    Well, the Therabreath products are WONDERFUL, despite an initial bout with tastelessness and “galvanization” feeling while eating/drinking. This lasted for only 3-4 days, going easy on the mouthrinses. They explained the sensation came from severely damaged tissue FROM THE MICROBES being assaulted by the rinses. My dentist and my hygienist are very happy with the arrest of decay and gum reccession! Yay!

  28. hello Dr. Marvin. I was using listerine complete complete care and my mouth feels really dry. I also have a bad smell the whole day and I feel embarrassed. My mouth feels very dry!!!! I have the listerine zero alcohol so I’m going to see how that works. My throat has a smell and foul taste. I don’t know what to do. Is it better to use a paste toothpaste or gel? Also, how can my mouth become more watery like before. Should I use baking soda? Also, is crest whitening strip good for your teeth because I used it one day and I saw a white spot on my side tooth and I thought my teeth were messing up. Haha! Please help me! I need some suggestions. I want my mouth to smell good, not be dry, white teeth, & I’ll have my self esteem back!!!!

    • The dryness is most likely caused by the alcohol. Before using the alcohol-free type, check out some of the other comments on this post to see what others think about Listerine. As for toothpaste, check out our list of toothpastes for some good options: What’s the Best Toothpaste?. As for the whitening strips, I’m not sure how safe they are, but I haven’t heard of patients getting great results. If you really want white, clean teeth, visit a holistic dentist and see what he/she recommends for you in particular.

  29. Hi I was wondering if you knew anything about the ‘kids’ smart rinse. The one that colors the food particles and bacteria so you can see how well you brushed. I have just gotten braces a few weeks ago and have been using it because it helps to show anything I missed on my braces but my sense of taste is being affected, I cant seem to taste things as well as I should

    • I haven’t taken a close look at it, but my first question would be “what are they using to dye the food particles and is it healthy?” Sorry I don’t have more information. Perhaps someone else on the website will have more information, though.

  30. Hi Dr. Marvin!
    I’m in the process of getting my silver fillings replaced with tooth colored fillings.
    I have two concerns:

    1) I am experiencing constant pain, day/night, hot/cold, sweet/spicy after the procedure.

    2) What can I do about the mercury that is being released when the dentist is drilling to remove them?

    • You need to make sure the dentist you are seeing uses proper removal protocol to ensure your safety and the safety of the staff. Removing mercury fillings releases lots of mercury vapor, which is more dangerous than the filling sitting alone in your mouth. At the very least, he should have a mercury ionizer, oxygen cannula, and a rubber dam in place. He should also be using low speed drilling and removing the filling in large chunks. For a great protocol, check out the IAOMT website. Their protocol should be followed as a bare minimum to ensure everyone’s safety.

  31. .I just bought listerine mouth was for my husband n myself a month ago. After using it for a month a dark patch has started to form in the inner layers of my husbands lips. We consulted a gen.physician,n he is suspecting it to be dangerous(i m really worried n hence dont wanna saying the 6 letter word). My husband is now under treatment for 15 days. If it persists further v have go for a biopsy. I regret to death y I bought listerine. I m dying dad by day thinking abt him…..i love him very much n I need him….

  32. Hey Dr. Marvin
    I want to know what is the best Mouthwash to use. I havebeen using listerine for the past year and dont mind the burning sensation. Before i started using mouthwash I descided to use listerine because I thought the burning sensation meant that it is very effective. After reading thie above I have 2nd thoughts. So please recommend me the best mouthwash availible in Australia, after all im only a teenager who wants his teeth for the rest of his life.


    • Try finding one that does not contain alcohol, as that is the best place to start. I’m not sure what products are available to you in your market, but I’m sure there are some natural options available.

  33. Hello Everyone,
    I need your help! I normally use regular Listerine, but decided to convert to Listerine Zero so that I can use it for the normal recommended time of 30 seconds without having to spit it out because it burned. The last time I used it, I swished it around for possibly up to 2 minutes and spat it out. It has been 4 days and I CANNOT TASTE ANYTHING! I can barely taste food but it is only on the sides of my tongue and when the food hits the back of my throat! Should I be worried about it? And when should I expect my full taste to come back? I have also noticed a taste that comes and goes in the back of my throat. The rinse doesn’t seem to help.. What can I do about that as well?

    • Tyrone,

      Sorry to hear about your experiences with Listerine and Listerine Zero. Thanks for sharing those comments. I’m sure everyone who reads your testimonial will think twice about using that mouthwash.

      People need to understand that every human is unique and products can produce different results for different people. This website is all about that.

      My suggestion for your question is to stop using that product and other toothpastes for a couple of weeks. You can still floss and brush with water. See what happens then and then check back with me.

      Dr. Marvin

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  35. I have used a new type of toothpaste and mouth wash and have red dots that are small on the back roof of the mouth. They do not hurt and no sore throat though. Is it the new mouth wash and toothpaste?

    • It probably is a reaction to either the mouthwash or toothpaste. eliminate one or both of them and see if the red dots go away. Check the ingredients of the products too.

  36. I really enjoy reading this thread. I am trying to find some answers to my Microbiology homework on mouthwashes and came across this site. I find it interesting the distain most people have for Listerine. When we tested the effectivness of Listerine on the normal flora of the mouth last week, Listerine was 0% effective for every single person in every single class. Rinsing with water showed to be equally as effective. How is it then that the ADA still supports Listerine as an effective product?

    • Do you have any of your research that we could share with our readers? I’m sure others would love to see what you have discovered!

      As for the ADA seal of approval, those are expensive little seals are very expensive, which is why the largest companies are typically the only ones that have the seal on their products.

    • Ashley. Great question. Most people don’t know that the ADA is a private organization supporting dentists. About half of all dentists are members. The ADA does everything it can to support it’s members and build it’s membership. The association has a long history and a brand that most people trust. However, don’t be misled. It is not the government and many of their suggestions/recommendations are NOT in the publics best interest.

      Dental manufacturers pay a pretty penny to get the ADA seal because they’ll sell more dental products because of it. That’s the way things are these days. Money talks.

      Instead, choose your personal products wisely.

      Dr. Marvin

  37. I’m currently in a Microbiology course and we did a study on the effectiveness of certain mouthwashes on the bacteria of our mouth in a blood agar plate. Some rinses/washes were effective in reducing bacteria, but none of the ADA approved mouthwashes even put a dent in killing bacteria. I went onto the ADA website to find out how in the heck some brands such as Listerine and Tom’s received the ADA gold seal. One of the tests they have to submit is regarding the efficacy of the product. So, since they do claim to reduce bacteria, yet our expirement showed that it did nothing to kill bacteria….how do they get their approval? Is it because maybe they are able to kill the bacteria for the first few minutes and that’s all they have to prove despite the fact that after 30 minutes, not only does the bacteria grow back, but it grows back in fierce numbers? I’ve now been convinced to throw my bottle of Listerine down the drain. All it seems to do is temporarily kill our good & bad bacteria but since the alcohol compromises the integrity of our mucous membrane, I’m thinking this makes it worse than just rinsing with city water (which is flourinated).

  38. Hi.. I have a broken teeth fr over two or three months.. But now i’m suffering coz of bad breath which i couldnt identify.. I’m not sure whether my broken teeth causing the trouble or my gums or the ulsur is causing the bad breath..

  39. Is the toothpaste and mouthwash brand “the Natural Dentist” good? Mainly the natural dentist whitening toothpaste and the prebrush whitening mouth rinse. Do you think using the stim-u dent plaque removers are a good alternative to flossing? Thanks.

  40. Hello, I really am glad I found this site!
    I like to choose natural products but have had tonsillolith since I was a child. Gargling with salt water usually works but this month it has gotten bad and I dont want to go to the doctor so they can offer to cut my tonsils out. I have resorted to listerine as an antiseptic. What natural antiseptic can I look for that is just as powerful?

    • Hello,

      I’m glad you like the site and are trying to use more natural products in your life whenever possible.

      Like you said, stay away from listerine. Look at getting my brand of mouthwash BreathDr and gargle with it for a minute or two.

      Dr. Marvin

      ps. By the way, have you gotten down to why you have tonsilloliths?

      • Yo doc stfu i have been using Listerine. For 13 yrs now n nothing has happened…

        • Good for you. I’m guessing you could smoke for 13 years and not everyone get cancer, right? Does everyone who talks on their cell phone while driving get in an accident? Does everyone who drinks alcohol while pregnant have complications in their babies?

          Why would you assume a 1-to-1 effect with Listerine? Certain things have the potential to cause problems. That doesn’t mean they ALWAYS cause problems. Me? I choose to avoid things that increase my risk factors. But if you disagree, feel free to live life your way (as long as it’s within the law). No worries mate.

  41. Thank you very much Dr. Marvin.

  42. Hey I have been brushing my teeth twice a day for a month and my teeth are yellow. Before I was only brushing once a day but now that I’m going to highschool I really would like them to be white. My problem is that I think they might be permantly stained because even though I’ve been brushing twice a day for a month I have not seen a change. I bought scope but that doesn’t seem to be doing anything either. I don’t know how to get them white can someone help me? ( It doesn’t have to be natural to get them white). I’m thirteen if that helps.

    • Hey Michael,

      Your teeth are staining due to what you are eating/drinking. I recommend ozone teeth whitening to whiten your teeth.

      Scope, listerine and any other mouthwash won’t really help.

      Dr. Marvin

      • Hi dr Marvin

        Please can you tell me what food and drinks is causing my non white teeth.I don’t drink coffee or tea.can you tell me where to find this info.

        Thank you so so much for the help!this is the most helpful site I have come across.

        Thank you thank you!

        All the best!

  43. ive been using listerine whitening for one week, and have the following side effects mouth ulcers sore throat swollen glands red spots on roof of my mouth. I have stopped using it and slowly its getting better, my girlfriend has also had ulcers (starting the same time) im pretty sure its all down to listerine

  44. (I know the thread is old but I’m out of options!) I just recently started using the Listerine Vibrant Whitening Pre Rinse ( white bottle, gold label.) I’ve been using it or maybe 2 or 3 weeks and have developed large ulcers on my tongue. My diet has not changed, I have no known food allergies, and i have not been rating anything acidic. I can’t find any side effects for this product online but I think it may be the culprit. Any known side effects and/or suggestions?

    • Amy,
      The first thing I would do is stop using the Listerine Vibrant Whitening Pre Rinse and see what happens. Most likely there is an ingredient in the rinse that is making you react. Manufacturers put many ingredients into their product that can cause this type of reaction such as artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, etc.

      Sorry. I don’t have a list of known side effects for this specific product. I haven’t used Listerine for years so I don’t have any personal experiences except the fact that I didn’t like the taste of it, it burned, and it made my mouth dry.

      Take a look at some non-alcohol containing rinses but for the most part, they just mask everything by using a powerful flavor.

      Dr. Marvin

  45. Hi! I know this thread is a bit old but hopefully I will get a response anyway 🙂
    I’ve been using a natural dental soap for the past two months. It tastes…well… Like soap!! So I usually rinse with listerine afterward to freshen my breath and get rid of the nasty soapy taste. BUT I’ve noticed a thin black film of dirt covering the bottoms of my teeth as well as in between them. It’s not stuck, I can usually just slightly scrape it off but it just won’t stop building up! I emailed the lady I ordered the soap from and she said she’s never heard of this happening. My frien bought the same soap for her family and they are not getting the dirt. I don’t drink tea, coffee or soda, and I don’t eat dirt so I’m thinking that the listerine might be the culprit, since it’s the only thing I do differently? Any thoughts on this and could this be the cause? I actually had to brush with toothpaste tonight because there was so much dirt built up that I didn’t have time to clean it off the usual way. After the toothpaste, it was gone. I really don’t want to go back to toothpaste because I prefer the natural route but I’m really at a loss about this and I’m tired of the black dirt building up! :-/

    • Sorry, but I don’t know what the “soap” is that you are using. Without knowing what it is, I can’t say for sure what’s causing the problem. It’s possible that the Listerine is reacting the soap in some way.

      I have two questions for you:
      1) Why not use a natural toothpaste instead of soap?
      2) Why are you using Listerine is you prefer natural products? Listerine is a pretty caustic rinse, and not one I would recommend, especially for someone looking for natural alternatives.

  46. Hello,

    What are your thoughts on “Crest” mouth rinse & their other products? I’ve read some mixed reviews on it. Although it does not contain alcohol,I personally think it has a really nasty, chemical taste to it & it does seem to cause teeth staining & has fluoride. Not happy with Crest pro-health toothpaste either… And these products have ADA seal on it! Money talks…

    I recently discovered “Tom’s of Maine” products. They claim their products to be natural & free of any harmful ingredients,saccharin,artificial sweeteners,preservatives,etc. I really liked propolis fluoride free toothpaste & natural peppermint mouth rinse. And now I’m thinking to completely stir away from Crest & things like that after researching Tom’s of Maine in more details.
    Please give any thoughts or comments on either, or both of those products.
    Thank you!

    • Some of Tom’s products are good. They have a little of everything, so you have to read their labels. I stay away from any products with any form of SLS or fluoride, which typically eliminates most of the bigger brands. Tom’s, Jason, Nature’s Gate… they all make good products if you read the labels and grab the right ones.

  47. actually listerine is primarily composed of essential oil like thymol, menthol, methyl salicylate anf eucalyptol. alcohol content is aroung 21% and is placed there to dissolve the essential oils. it is not fo antibacterial activity. both the american dental association and the united states national cancer institute have declaerd it safe.

    • How do you define the word “primarily”? I would define it as the dictionary does: “for the most part”. Considering Listerine is about 21% alcohol and even larger part water, I would say it is “primarily” water and alcohol.

      It’s stated active ingredients are Eucalyptol (0.092%), Menthol (0.042%), Methyl salicylate (0.060%), and Thymol (0.064%) (depending on the line you are looking at). The reason those are the “active” ingredients are because those are the ingredients that help fight plaque and gingivitis. That in no way implies that the alcohol doesn’t have any effect on the mouth when used at 21%. Further, the ADA also says mercury fillings are safe, etc. There is a substantial cost associated with having a product ADA “approved”… they don’t simply look at every dental product and offer to put their seal on it. And I believe the NCI actually said they have not yet found conclusive evidence of alcohol based mouthwash leading to oral cancer… which is a far cry from declaring it “safe.”

      Of course, that’s all assuming you discount studies such as the one from the Australian Dental Journal: (which states “that it is inadvisable for oral healthcare professionals to recommend the long-term use of alcohol-containing mouthwashes” because of “sufficient evidence to accept the proposition that alcohol-containing mouthwashes contribute to the increased risk of development of oral cancer”.)

  48. Joletta Says: May 16, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    I was looking at the Listerine I have here at home and it has sugar and glycerine in it. Sugar is bad for your teeth and I heard that glycerine is really bad too. I stopped using my listerine and now I use salt water. I also stopped using my toothpaste too. They both were not doing me any good at all. They were not helping my teeth any. I use baking soda now. My teeth are whiter and they don’t hurt anymore. I really believe in all natural things to heal your body and your teeth. I heard that baking soda could probably actually restore my teeth. I have two holes in my teeth where the fillings fell out. I really believe the baking soda is starting to heal my teeth and my holes are starting to close up. My mom has been using baking soda too and her gums are healing. She also using salt water too.

    • Its been awhile since this comment but I was wondering if you were still brushing your teeth with baking soda and if the holes have closed up.

    • Laura Demitrio Says: September 1, 2012 at 5:05 am

      Great. Salt water rinses will do you very well! 🙂

      That’s what my dentist recommended is the absolute best

  49. I have to agree with Dr. Marvin. Alcohol based mouth rinses will do their job initially- but while doing it, also strip and damage gum and cheek tissue. Then the next onslaught of bacteria moves in and is able to do even more damage.

    My favorite newly discovered mouth rinse so far (besides sea salt water or baking soda and water) is Ecodent’s oral mouth rinse. It has Goldenseal, and other anti-bacterial herbs and essential oils in an olive oil base. Lately I’ve been having gum issues during my menstruation times so am using this daily during that time — I love the taste and the way it wakes up my mouth without the alcohol. I plan on getting a few more bottles of this to keep on hand.
    I also love the Ecodent tooth powder as well.

  50. That is so wrong, if you were educated you would no that listerine is the best mouthwash. it has been around since the 1800’s. it’s the only mouthwash approved by the american dental assocation, and it has the best results. non alcoholic mouthwashes dont work. so what if listerine burns. wouldnt you rather have white nice teeth with no plaque instead of dirty teeth.

    • Lexi, in actuality, the ADA has “approved” over 50 brands of mouth rinses and over 100 different products within those brands. Some of those rinses contain alcohol and some do not (here’s a list: ADA-approved mouth rinses.

      Also, the ADA has released research that indicates alcohol-based mouthrinses may be a cause of certain oral cancers ( They still put their seal on some of them because of limited research that has been done and because, despite the oral cancer risk, the rinses contain ingredients known to help reduce plaque, and that’s the goal of the product, despite the potential side effects.

      Does Listerine have a long history? Yes. Does that mean it’s the best choice of products — or the only option you have? Absolutely not.

    • Laura Demitrio Says: September 1, 2012 at 4:55 am

      My dentist recommended that I do NOT take listerene, due to that it can discolour/stain your teeth and its got alcohol in it. Even when a company is trying to sell its PRODUCT it doesn’t always give you the truth. This is why we have DENTISTS, although if you have been to multiple dentist before and they have all given you DIFFERENT opinions, you need to see someone you trust. Most dentist out there will actually scam you and say you need heaps of work done when you don’t actually. This is how they earn, and because YOU are the patient and you have COMPLETE trust in them, they think they can get away with this.
      Just because something has been around for decades, it doesn’t been that its a WORTHWHILE and GOOD-FOR-YOU product. WAKE UP WORLD and realize that WE are the sucked in ones, who have disputes about the stupidest things. If you trust someone who is trained, that’s your commitment, but if your someone like me who used to use listerene and found out what it does, congratulations.

      Thank you and hopefully you don’t think this is a load of BULLCRAP.

      • Not A. Dentist Says: September 27, 2012 at 12:52 am

        Hi laura, I am not a dentist, but regular listerine should not stain your teeth. Actually from what I have read it is some of the non-alcohol mouthwashes that seem to stain teeth, such as crest pro-health. I tried using pro-health but after just 3 days, I lost my sense of taste. I am still not sure what is best, but I think I am going to try Tom’s of Maine mouthwash, or someone suggested I use original listerine followed by original act. Funny how all these “professionals” tell us different things.

    • If you were educated you would KNOW the difference between “know” and “no” and their proper uses.

      • I’m not sure whose grammar you are correcting, but if there is a typo in the article, please let me know so I can fix it. If you are referring to another commenter, I’m sure it was a typo, not a reflection of intelligence.

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