Can you use too much mouthwash?: Too much of a good thing

Mouthwash should be in our oral hygiene routine, yes most of us know that. But do we know how much mouthwash should we use? There might be possible reasons for you to question this. Maybe you’re constantly using it for fresh breath and worried that you’re overusing, or maybe you’re using it because you’re too afraid of oral health issues; such as tooth decay, plaque buildup, and many more.

Well, of course, mouthwash is a product that benefits oral hygiene, but only when used in the right dosage. Don’t forget that overuse will have few consequences. Enough is as good as a feast after all. So what happens if you use too much mouthwash? How much of it is enough?

Let’s get rid of the question marks in your mind!

How much mouthwash is enough?

We all know that the three essentials for oral health are brushing, flossing, and rinsing. It is enough to do these routinely for oral health. You may have thought it might be good to use more mouthwash to maintain a healthy mouth. But to do this, you should ask yourself one question. Are you using the right amount of mouthwash to keep your mouth healthy? Or are you actually using too much?

Besides the amount, you should make sure that you’re using the product the right way. Not only the dosage but also the wrong techniques can cause serious health problems. As long as you practice the steps correctly with the right amount of mouthwash, your mouth will thank you!

Dosage matters!

Adding mouthwash to your daily dental hygiene routine will improve oral health for sure. The key is the correct amount of mouth rinse. According to a study, using 15 ml per wash is the most comfortable amount. You don’t have to measure the exact amount of course. Some mouthwash brands even design bottle caps to hold 20 ml for you. Rest assured that 20 ml won’t hurt either. Just be sure there’s enough space in your mouth to rinse. A mouthful of the product won’t give you an instant, perfect healthy mouth anyway! (2)

Misconceptions about mouthwash are common. You won’t see any difference if you’ve been using cosmetic mouthwash to improve your dental health. It’ll only help you with bad breath and sometimes staining. You can’t get rid of harmful bacteria with it. 

You can always talk to your dentist for recommendations. For example, they might prescribe you an antiseptic mouthwash or an antibacterial one. They’re prescribed for the treatment of oral diseases, such as gingivitis. Depending on the severity and type of disease, your dentist will tell you the amount of product you should use.

Mouth washing too many times a day

Now that you know the amount of mouthwash you should use, let’s talk about the recommended daily use. Oral rinses should be lasting no more than 2 times a day, 30 to 60 seconds long per rinse. At least for counter mouthwashes. In any case, be sure to read the usage recommendations. 

Since brushing your teeth after every meal and snack can damage your tooth enamel, it makes more sense to use mouthwash instead. This is enough if you want to get rid of food debris and have a fresh breath during the day until your next tooth brushing. But you still shouldn’t do this after everything you eat.

Depending on your issue, they might recommend fluoride, antiseptic, or antibacterial mouthwash. When dentists prescribe a certain type of mouthwash, they will also tell you how much and how often to use it. So don’t worry!

What happens if you use too much mouthwash?

Let’s get to the real question. You’ve realized you’re using too much mouthwash. There are some possible scenarios. You can get exposed to harmful chemicals or negatively affect your oral health. It is quite possible that you may have to deal with oral health problems because of these scenarios. So, what happens if you use too much mouthwash?

Let’s take a closer look!

You may be exposed to excessive chemicals

Most of us try to avoid chemicals in our daily lives but you may be overlooking something. What if you’re using too much mouthwash in your daily life? Well, you can get exposed to those chemicals that you’ve been trying hard to protect yourself from. For example, according to a study, ethanol-based alcohol-containing mouthwashes consist of carcinogen metabolites. Basically, it means that they can cause oral cancer in the long run. (4)

Also, antibacterial mouthwashes are no exception. The risk of mouth and throat cancer increases if you use it excessively. Mouthwash products with alcohol-free formulas are available on the market. You can always easily switch to them if you want.

If you’re a smoker, you’ve already been exposed to enough chemicals, and it’s possible to have a high risk of developing oral cancer. And given the risk of alcohol-based mouthwash, it’s obviously not looking good. Let alone your oral health, the best thing you can do for your overall health is, of course, to quit smoking.

It might have a negative impact on your oral health

Mouthwashes are meant to protect our mouths from bad bacteria. But we should not forget that good bacteria also live there and are beneficial to us. If you use alcohol-based mouthwash excessively, you are likely to disrupt the healthy ratio. It destroys the bacteria in your mouth without separating them as good or bad and causes dry mouth. It’s not a good idea to use more and more mouthwash to prevent dry mouth. You may experience sensitive teeth, bad breath, and cavities as a result. Using less product or not using it for a while can actually make it better. As the saying goes, less is more.

However, if you thought using more mouthwash might be an effective solution because you have mouth sores, sorry to give you the news. But after a couple of rinses, those sores can get even worse. You should not approach this with “diamond cut diamond”. But even if they get worse, don’t worry! In this case, it would be best to talk to your doctor so that your recovery process goes smoothly.

Significant signs of overusing mouthwash

Does your mouth feel weird? You know, drinking a sugary drink after you eat a cake, your sense of taste goes dull. Is that how you’ve been feeling lately? Also, has your tooth decay started to increase? How did we guess? Because these are some of the side effects of using too much mouthwash. Make sure that mouthwash is the only reason you are experiencing these problems. Telling your dentist about the side effects will help with a more accurate diagnosis.

Your food tastes a little bland

Why do your taste buds feel weird after using mouthwash? This sensation may start with the burning sensation you feel when using mouthwash. If your food tastes a little bland after the burning sensation, you may be using too much mouthwash. This burn is usually caused by some of the ingredients in mouthwash, such as alcohol and menthol. Avoid using too much mouthwash or take a break from using it if you don’t want to experience this. You can also try alcohol-free mouthwashes that don’t burn your mouth or affect your taste buds. This type of mouthwash can offer you a more comfortable daily use.

Increased tooth decay

Your saliva plays a huge role in protecting your teeth. It acts as a barrier that protects teeth from harmful sugary and acidic food debris. Using too much mouthwash can dry out your saliva and damage this barrier. So your enamel becomes vulnerable, leading to further tooth decay.

If you use a daily mouthwash and your tooth decay is increasing, what you need to do is simple. Visit your dentist. Have your newly formed dental caries and plaques cleaned well. Then ask for the type of mouthwash that is suitable for you. Start implementing your doctor’s recommendations in your daily life. Ta da! You can say bye-bye to such oral situations!


1. McCullough M, Farah C. The role of alcohol in oral carcinogenesis with particular reference to alcohol-containing mouthwashes. Australian Dental Journal. 2008;53(4):302-305. doi: Link

2. Keukenmeester R, Slot D, Rosema N, Van der Weijden G. Determination of a comfortable volume of mouthwash for rinsing. International Journal of Dental Hygiene. 2012;10(3):169-174. doi: Link

3. Radzki D, Wilhelm-Węglarz M, Pruska K, Kusiak A, Ordyniec-Kwaśnica I. A Fresh Look at Mouthwashes—What Is Inside and What Is It For? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022;19(7):3926. doi: Link

4. Hsu TC, Furlong C, Spitz MR. Ethyl alcohol as a cocarcinogen with special reference to the aerodigestive tract: a cytogenetic study. Anticancer Research. 1991;11(3):1097-1101. Accessed February 15, 2023. Link