Dental Hygiene,  Products,  Q&A

Is Listerine Good For You? Should I Use Mouthwash?

This article is a part of our Q&A series in which we give detailed answers to our readers' questions. Have a question? Don't hesitate and send it to us to get a detailed answer!

Mouthwash, such as Listerine, is a popular oral hygiene product, but questions often arise regarding its benefits and potential downsides. This article explores the intricacies of using Listerine and other mouthwashes, and whether or not incorporating them into your oral care routine is a good idea.

What is Listerine And How Does It Work?

Mouthwash is an oral rinse that contains a variety of ingredients to help in the fight against bad breath, plaque, and gum diseases like gingivitis. There are different types of mouthwashes that serve different purposes – cosmetic, therapeutic, or a combination of both.
Listerine is one of the most popular brands of mouthwash. It was initially developed in the 19th century as a surgical antiseptic. It later gained popularity as an oral rinse. Listerine contains various ingredients such as menthol, thymol, eucalyptol, and methyl salicylate, which combine to provide an antiseptic effect.

Benefits of Using Listerine

  1. Freshens Breath: Listerine can temporarily reduce bad breath. The minty flavor leaves a fresh sensation in the mouth.
  2. Reduces Plaque and Gingivitis: The antiseptic properties of Listerine help in killing bacteria that cause plaque and gingivitis.
  3. Cleans Hard-to-Reach Places: Mouthwash can reach areas that your toothbrush and floss might miss, making for a more thorough cleaning.

Concerns Regarding the Use of Listerine

  1. Alcohol Content: Traditional Listerine contains alcohol, which can cause a burning sensation in the mouth. Some studies suggest that long-term use of alcohol-containing mouthwashes may be linked to an increased risk of oral cancer, though more research is needed in this area.
  2. Masking Underlying Issues: Mouthwash may mask the smell of bad breath without addressing the underlying cause, which could be an oral health issue that requires attention.
  3. Disruption of Oral Microbiome: Excessive use of mouthwash can disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in the mouth, potentially leading to oral health problems.

Should You Use Listerine or Other Mouthwashes?

When deciding whether or not to use Listerine or any other mouthwash, consider the following points:

  • Purpose: Understand why you want to use mouthwash. If it’s solely for fresh breath, it might be better to find the underlying cause of bad breath instead.
  • Alcohol or Alcohol-free: If you have a sensitive mouth or are concerned about the alcohol content, opt for an alcohol-free version.
  • Dentist Recommendation: Consult your dentist for recommendations based on your oral health. Some people might benefit from specific types of therapeutic mouthwashes.

Using Mouthwash Properly

If you choose to use mouthwash, follow these steps:

  • Brush and floss your teeth first
  • Pour the recommended amount of mouthwash into a cup
  • Empty the cup into your mouth and swish vigorously for 30 seconds
  • Spit the mouthwash out. Avoid swallowing it
  • Avoid eating or drinking for 30 minutes after using mouthwash to let the active ingredients work

Bottom Line

Listerine and other mouthwashes can be beneficial when used properly and as part of a comprehensive oral hygiene routine. However, it’s important to use them judiciously and in conjunction with regular brushing and flossing. Consult your dentist to decide if using mouthwash is appropriate for your specific oral health needs. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and your dentist’s recommendations.


This Q&A series article is complete and was published on June 30, 2018, and last updated on July 27, 2023.

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