It's a mouthwash. It's on the tip of my tongue. And killing me.
September 16, 2010 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Why does listerine burn the tip of my tongue?

This is just one of those things I've always wondered. Whenever I use my listerine mouthwash, the tip of my tongue takes a beating. Sides? Nothing. Back? Nothing. Inside my mouth? Nothing.

Tip of my tongue? Burns like I'm licking a 9 volt.

I'm not prissy about hot tastes. I use tapatio on everything and even hot temperatures don't faze me much. But so help me, I use that green bottle and I've got 15 seconds before I start screaming.

I've used other mouthwashes (Scope, whatever the house brand is at CVS) and I've had similar effects though MUCH MUCH lighter. And still just to the tip of the tongue. I just think listerine does the best job for me...not including the burning.

So what's the explanation? Body specific listerine allergy? Something about tongue areas I should remember from elementary school? Long term damage from my youthful beatboxing years?
posted by rileyray3000 to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
The alcohol in mouthwash really bothers my mouth. It's usually an all-over irritation for me, but you could try using a brand without alcohol.
posted by two lights above the sea at 1:02 PM on September 16, 2010

Tongue-flavor areas aren't exactly real, so it's probably not that.

On a side note, alcohol-based mouthwashes promote oral cancer, so maybe your tongue is just being a good neighbor.
posted by soma lkzx at 1:05 PM on September 16, 2010

It's the alcohol combined with the effects of the active ingredients in Listerine. It sets everything off more so than some other alcohol based rinses.
Ask your dentist about it and they'll give you the same\similar answer.

Crest Pro Health rinse is what is recommended if someone is sensitive. It does just as good of a job as Listerine but there isn't alcohol.
posted by zephyr_words at 1:08 PM on September 16, 2010

It could be the methyl salicylate, which is not present in Scope.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 1:10 PM on September 16, 2010

I bet you have a scar or tiny benign lesion or something on the tip of your tongue. Some structural change to the tissue. A different kind of tissue that's connected to a nerve.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:30 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

The tip of your tongue might have different type of taste receptors than the rest of your tongue that affect how your taste buds react to the chemicals in the Listerine. That's why you might be able to handle other types of 'hyper' tastes like HOT sauce. Just a guess based on my limited understanding of the tongue in relationship to taste.

I know when I drink soda, the first sip always burns the back of my throat and a ways down. It's actually painful -- the carbonation just kills me!
posted by loquat at 1:36 PM on September 16, 2010

FYI, do be careful with the Crest Pro Health rinse; lots and lots of customer complaints about tooth staining and other problems. Also, it is not ADA-approved (Listerine is).

As for the burning sensation, I think the tip of your tongue tends to be more sensitive to touch/sensation than other areas of the tongue.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 2:12 PM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might want to try an alcohol-free mouthwash like Biotene or Tom's of Maine. Biotene in particular is a really great product for more sensitive mouths - I used it while I was going through chemo and it was a godsend.

It's brushing and flossing that really get rid of most of the bacteria and yucky stuff in your mouth. Mouthwash is nice, but not 100% necessary if you brush and floss, and drink lots of water to keep your mouth moist, unless you have a condition like Sjogren's and your doctor says you must use a mouthwash.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 2:25 PM on September 16, 2010

My guess would be a minor variation of Cool Papa Bell's answer: do you have a chipped tooth or a sharp edge of a filling or appliance that you could be cutting the tip of your tongue on?

For a while I was clamping my tongue between my teeth in my sleep, and I woke up a number of times with my tongue stuck on my lower teeth (ow), but I never did bite the tip.

Supposedly, the tip of the tongue can tolerate higher temperatures than any other part of the body made up of living tissue, ~190F (according to an old Mike Mailway column), but that seems awfully high to me.
posted by jamjam at 2:28 PM on September 16, 2010

Maybe you have some trivial bit of tissue damage to the tip of your tongue, like mild frostbite from ice cream cones or popsicles or something like that making the tip of your tongue more sensitive.
posted by marsha56 at 2:30 PM on September 16, 2010

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