Why does gargling with listerine hurt?
November 26, 2007 1:10 PM   Subscribe

Why does opening my throat and *gargling* with listerine, as opposed to merely rinsing like I would when brushing my teeth, hurt a lot? I don't have a sore throat or any other throat troubles I know of.

Also, it may be just my imagination, but I feel like whenever I do this I feel these grainy "bits" in the back of my throat, as if there's tiny pieces of something that the listerine has broken down and detached.
posted by shivohum to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Listerine (and most other mass-market mouth washes) are largely alcohol. Gargle with cheap mint-flavored bourbon and see if that hurts as much.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:16 PM on November 26, 2007

Do you get tonsil stones? It may be that the gargling dislodges the tonsil stones.
posted by odi.et.amo at 1:57 PM on November 26, 2007

I get a "burning" sensation when I gargle Listerine. I think it is indeed the alcohol (Listerine Cool Mint, FreshBurst, Natural Citrus and Vanilla Mint contain 21.6% alcohol by volume, while Gold contains 26.9% alcohol by volume.). In a recent "kinda" related thread folks recommended Tom's Mouthwash as a no-alcohol alternative.
posted by ericb at 2:04 PM on November 26, 2007

I love that burn. I feel like it must be doing some extraordinary mouth cleaning. I assume it's the alcohol hitting all the hypersensitive nerves.
posted by HotPatatta at 2:20 PM on November 26, 2007

Alcohol tends to hurt living tissue of any type. Your throat isn't as tough as your tongue, gums or cheeks but if the pain is significant you may want to find out if you have a low-grade chronic infection back there or perhaps a tonsil problem as previously mentioned.
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 2:29 PM on November 26, 2007

My throat doctor said that gargling with mouthwash is the worst thing for your throat, it totally irritates it. He said to use warm salt water for a sore throat. So I guess just keep the mouthwash in your mouth if you've gotta use it.
posted by chococat at 5:16 PM on November 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

This AskMe answered a question that I didn't know how to ask.

And the description of the 'little things' you have given is exactly what I've experienced, too. I have observed it's much worse when I'm on allergy medication. Are you on allergy medication?
posted by winna at 12:11 AM on November 27, 2007

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