The unique thrill of inebriation has fascinated mankind for millennia, with an unending stream of concoctions brewed and consumed throughout history. However, while traditional beverages like wine, beer, and spirits have remained central to this pursuit, the periphery often sees unusual candidates. Among these, perhaps one of the most unconventional choices is drinking mouthwash. With a surprisingly high alcohol content, it has been eyed as a potential source of intoxication by some. Yet, it’s crucial to understand that mouthwash, being laden with chemicals not intended for consumption, poses significant health risks when misused in this way.
Can you get drunk on mouthwash?
Yes, it is theoretically possible to get drunk off mouthwash because many types contain alcohol, specifically ethanol, which is the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and spirits.
However, it’s critical to note that drinking mouthwash to get intoxicated is extremely dangerous and strongly discouraged for several reasons:
- High Alcohol Content: Some mouthwashes can contain up to 26% alcohol, significantly more than most alcoholic beverages. Consuming it in quantity can lead to alcohol poisoning, which is a serious medical emergency.
- Toxic Ingredients: Mouthwash contains other ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, eucalyptol, thymol, and methyl salicylate, which are not intended for ingestion and can be harmful, causing nausea, vomiting, and even more severe health problems.
- Damage to the Digestive System: The chemicals in mouthwash can damage the mouth, throat, stomach, and other parts of the digestive system when ingested in large quantities.
- Dependence and Addiction: As with any substance containing alcohol, there’s a risk of developing a dependence or addiction.
Overall, while it might be possible to get intoxicated from drinking mouthwash, the risks and potential harm far outweigh any potential ‘benefits.’ If you or someone you know is considering drinking mouthwash or any other non-consumable product containing alcohol, it’s crucial to reach out to a healthcare professional or a local alcohol addiction helpline.
What happens when you drink mouthwash?
Drinking mouthwash is not safe. It’s meant to be used for oral hygiene and spat out, not swallowed. If a person does drink mouthwash, here’s what could potentially happen:
- Gastrointestinal Issues: Consuming mouthwash can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This is due to the high alcohol content and other ingredients that aren’t meant to be ingested.
- Intoxication or Alcohol Poisoning: Because many types of mouthwash contain alcohol, drinking a large amount could lead to intoxication or even alcohol poisoning, which is potentially deadly.
- Organ Damage: Regularly drinking mouthwash can damage the liver and kidneys because these organs have to work overtime to process the toxins in mouthwash.
- Mucosal Damage: The high alcohol content and other chemicals in mouthwash can cause burns or damage to the mucous membranes in the mouth, throat, and esophagus.
- Metabolic Acidosis: Some ingredients in mouthwash, like methyl salicylate, can be metabolized into salicylate, which can cause metabolic acidosis, a serious condition where the body either produces too much acid, the kidneys don’t remove enough acid, or the body doesn’t form enough bicarbonate. This can result in symptoms such as rapid breathing, confusion, and lethargy, and it can be life-threatening.
- Dependence and Addiction: Like any substance containing alcohol, there’s a risk of developing dependence or addiction to mouthwash.
Given these risks, it’s important not to consume mouthwash. It’s also crucial to store mouthwash out of reach of children to prevent accidental ingestion. If you or someone else accidentally ingests mouthwash, you should contact Poison Control or a healthcare professional immediately. If the person appears seriously ill, dial emergency services right away.
What mouthwash has the most alcohol?
Many types of mouthwash contain alcohol, and the amount can vary quite a bit. Some of the mouthwashes with higher alcohol content include:
Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash:
Listerine is a well-known brand of mouthwash. It is designed to kill germs that cause bad breath, plaque, and the gum disease gingivitis. The active ingredients in Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash are essential oils including thymol, eucalyptol, methyl salicylate, and menthol. These ingredients have antiseptic properties and work together to kill bacteria in the mouth. Listerine Antiseptic Mouthwash typically contains about 26.9% alcohol, which is used as a solvent to dissolve the essential oils and enable them to penetrate plaque. However, there are also alcohol-free versions of Listerine available for people who prefer to avoid alcohol or who find that the alcohol in mouthwash causes them discomfort. It’s important to note that all of these mouthwashes, whether they contain alcohol or not, are designed for oral rinsing and should be spit out after use. They are not intended for consumption and swallowing these products can lead to serious health consequences.
Scope is a brand of mouthwash made by Procter & Gamble and is known for its fresh mint flavor. It is designed to kill bad breath germs and leave your mouth feeling clean and fresh. The active ingredient in Scope is cetylpyridinium chloride, which works as an antiseptic to kill bacteria. There are several different varieties of Scope mouthwash available, including Original Mint, Outlast (which is designed to keep your breath fresh for up to five hours), and Dual-Blast (which is designed to eliminate strong food odors like garlic and onions). Scope mouthwashes generally have an alcohol content of around 15-20%, although there are also alcohol-free versions available.
Cepacol is a brand of oral care products, and its mouthwash is designed to provide multi-symptom relief for sore throats and mouth pain. The active ingredients in Cepacol mouthwash are cetylpyridinium chloride, which works as an antiseptic, and benzocaine, a local anesthetic that can provide temporary relief for minor discomfort and irritation in the mouth and throat. Cepacol mouthwash is often used by people experiencing mouth pain or irritation due to minor dental procedures, dentures, orthodontic appliances, or other minor mouth injuries. Cepacol mouthwash can contain up to 14% alcohol, but there are also alcohol-free versions available.
Remember that this alcohol content is significantly higher than most alcoholic beverages, and mouthwash also contains other ingredients not intended for ingestion. It’s important to use mouthwash as directed – typically, swishing it in the mouth for a short period of time and then spitting it out. Ingesting mouthwash can lead to alcohol poisoning and other serious health consequences. If you’re seeking a mouthwash without alcohol, there are many options available on the market, such as certain versions of Crest, Tom’s of Maine, and Listerine Zero.