Mouthwash is a oral healthcare product intended to be used by adults and children over six years of age. The steps you should take after swallowing mouthwash will depend on your age, weight and the amount of mouthwash you consumed. While mouthwash should never be swallowed, in most cases, small amounts will not cause serious health problems. Many different types of mouthwash, including fluoride, non-alcoholic and alcoholic mouthwash, can be dangerous if ingested in large amounts. Children and adults who swallow large amounts of mouthwash should contact poison control for instructions on how to safely handle the situation.
If you have accidentally swallowed a small amount of mouthwash while gargling, there is usually no need to worry. In small amounts, the risks of swallowing mouthwash are typically limited to nausea and diarrhea. These side effects should subside within a few hours of swallowing it. If after a few hours your condition begins to worsen, contact a physician or poison control center to determine whether you need medical assistance.
In most cases, health concerns only arise when children or adults swallow mouthwash in moderate to large amounts. The more mouthwash was consumed, the greater the health concern. Although mouthwash might seem harmless, many products contain flouride and ethanol, which are poisonous when ingested in large amounts. Even flouride-free, non-alcoholic mouthwash can be dangerous. These products often contain hydrogen peroxide, chlorhexidine gluconate and methyl salicylate, which can cause serious health problems.
If you have swallowed more than a few sips while using a mouthwash, contact a poison control center. Unless you have been advised to do so by a medical professional, you should not try to make yourself throw up after swallowing mouthwash. Before calling poison control, make a note of the mouthwash you ingested and the length of time it has been since you swallowed the product. A poison control center will evaluate your situation based on your age, weight and the poisons you consumed.
Depending on the severity of swallowing mouthwash, you might be advised to seek additional medical attention. Once inside an emergency room or hospital, your vital signs will be taken and a medical professional will assess your condition. Your healthcare provider will then take the necessary action to cleanse your body of the poison. While this is a worst-case scenario, it is important to understand that mouthwash poisoning is very serious. When using mouthwash, carefully follow the product’s instructions to avoid potential health problems.