Ingredients to Avoid in Mouthwash

Ingredients to Avoid in Mouthwash

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3 Min.


Most mouthwashes contain 26% alcohol in the form of ethanol. This is actually a higher percentage than that found in beer, and alcohol causes dryness in the mouth. Dry mouth can worsen bad breath, dry the skin on the inside of the cheeks, and increase acidity. All this interferes with remineralization. The strong antibacterial properties of the alcohol in the mouthwash lead to a tingling sensation. These properties are so strong that along with the bad bacteria, the good ones are also destroyed. Also, alcohol in water increases the risk of oral cancer.

Chlorine dioxide

Defined as a "dangerous gas," chlorine dioxide is a bleaching agent and antibacterial compound used in the mouth to help whiten teeth.


Chlorhexidine is the main ingredient in mouthwash, which acts as an antiseptic to kill bacteria. Unfortunately, it is also a major allergen. The most common reaction to chlorhexidine is contact dermatitis, but in rare cases some people may go into anaphylactic shock.

Cocamidopropyl betaine

Cocamidopropyl betaine is a surfactant (an ingredient used in personal care products to make them foam more) that can cause allergic contact dermatitis reactions. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) classifies it as a "moderate hazard" as an ingredient.


To varying degrees, parabens are endocrine disruptors that can also affect and promote allergic reactions.

Poloxamer 407

This detergent ingredient in mouthwash is known to cause hyperlipidemia in animals, although human studies have not made it clear how the effects extend to humans.


Yes, you read that right! - a substance used for embalming bodies. There are a number of dangers from formaldehyde exposure, including skin reactions, increased risk of cancer, breathing problems, and multilevel cessation (at huge doses).


To avoid the use of refined sugar, mouthwash will sometimes include saccharin as a substitute sweetener. The health risks of this ingredient are unclear—some sources suggest it's a potential cancer risk, while others suggest it has no health downsides. In all cases, stick to the healthiest natural and non-nutritive (zero-calorie) sweeteners, such as stevia.