What Happens After Swallowing Mouthwash?

Effects of swallowing mouthwash vary depending on the amount ingested; swallowing small amounts, such as used in rinsing, produce gastrointestinal distress including nausea and an upset stomach, while ingesting larger amounts produces serious effects akin to alcohol poisoning. The symptoms of mouthwash ingestion also depend in part on age, weight and brand. Mouthwash containing higher amounts of toxic ingredients, specifically fluoride and ethanol, produces more profound effects, as do a younger age and lighter body weight.

After ingesting large doses of mouthwash, people experience side effects ranging from unpleasant to dangerous. These symptoms include dizziness, disorientation, abdominal pain, headache, low body temperature and low blood sugar, sore throat, slowed or nonexistent reflexes and reactions and vomiting. Severe side effects include convulsions, seizures, coma and even death. Upon swallowing mouthwash, people often need medical treatment. According to Oral B and the New York Times, people assisting overdose victims should call 911 or an emergency poisoning hotline. They should not induce vomiting in victims, nor give them food. Caretakers ideally accompany patients to the hospital, and bring the bottle of mouthwash with them. At the emergency room, patients receive various kinds of care, depending on the severity of poisoning. Medical remedies include administering charcoal, laxatives, a breathing tube and fluids through an IV. Sometimes, doctors perform kidney dialysis and pump out stomach contents using gastric lavage.