Mouthwash

Painful Reaction After Using Crest Pro Health Mouthwash

I've been using Crest Pro Health for several months now, and each time I use it I notice that the skin on the inside of my mouth sloughs off immediately after I finish brushing. I was wondering if this was potentially harmful.

by Dr. Burhenne

Painful Reaction After Using Crest Pro Health Mouthwash

Mouthwash Question: I’ve been using Crest Pro Health for several months now, and each time I use it I notice that the skin on the inside of my mouth sloughs off immediately after I finish brushing. I was wondering if this was potentially harmful.

I’ve checked the Crest website, and apparently, I’m not the only person to have this problem; however I haven’t been able to determine if it’s simply a side effect or if it may actually be harmful. Any suggestions?

Answer: Most remember the DuPont advertising slogan, “Better things for better living…through chemistry.”

Quite the contrary. I have never been a fan of mouthwash.

Besides taking up precious counter space in the bathroom and taking away a few precious minutes from your day (robbing you of flossing time) it is equal to only a very small percentage of the equation in keeping your teeth and mouth healthy.

It’s become common folklore that we can use mouthwash in a pinch instead of brushing or flossing.

Listerine helped feed this notion by funding studies that suggested that this was true: “It’s clinically proven – a quick, easy rinse with Listerine Antiseptic twice a day is actually as effective as floss,” the flashy TV commercial states.

Animation shows streams of Listerine flowing around teeth, magically removing bits of food and plaque.

Many lawsuits later, it was determined that these advertisements were false and misleading.

Why Mouthwash Isn’t Good For You

In your question, you indirectly bring up an important point — that mouthwash can only clean chemically.

It relies on the chemicals to do the removing and killing of the bacteria in the mouth.

A toothbrush and floss achieve the same effect by making actual contact with plaque and bacteria and disorganizing them, all with out chemicals.

But the chemicals in mouthwash can make contact with the key surfaces only after you brush and floss!

For mouthwash to work, the teeth and the gums have to be exposed. If you use mouthwash without removing that layer of plaque on your teeth and gums first, the chemicals cannot make contact with the surfaces you’re trying to clean.

This might make it sound like the best time to use mouthwash is right after brushing – but there’s a caveat!

Toothpaste contains anionic compounds that kill bacteria in the mouth — and these anionic compounds remain in your mouth even when you finish brushing and spit out your toothpaste.

The caveat is that mouthwash contains cationic compounds, which act as surfactants and thus neutralize the anionic compounds from your toothpaste.

This neutralization effect caused by mouthwash is what I believe is causing your problem. It is drying out the protective layer of your cheeks and may even be the beginning of mouth ulcers. (Ulceration is a break-down, or hole, forming in your tissue.)

My recommendation to you is to discontinue using mouthwash altogether and choose a toothpaste without sodium lauryl sulfate (which is the source of the anionic compounds).

Immediately discontinue use of Crest Pro-Health Care, which contains cetylpyridinium chloride (which contains the cationic charge).

Brush and floss after every meal to maintain healthy teeth and gums – it’s old-fashioned and isn’t backed by any swanky advertising campaigns, but it works!

Mark Burhenne DDS

What experiences have you had with mouthwash? Join the discussion and leave a comment below!

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33 Comments

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  1. Used Crest Pro mouthwash a week ago for two days straight. The pain in my teeth and gums was so bad, I made an emergency trip to my dentist. Also, painful ulcers covered the entire bottom of my mouth. Now, inside my cheeks the skin is sloughing off. The dentist says my teeth and gums are fine, and it would be a reasonable conclusion that the mouthwash is the culprit. I have to put Ora-gel over the entire upper and lower section of my mouth and take ibuprofen constantly. He said it might be weeks before this stops. I can’t tell you how bad it is; I can’t do anything as the pain, when the gel wears off, is so bad I can’t function. He’s seen this before, but has never seen such a bad reaction to a product. I used Listerine for the past two years with no problems. I only switched because I can’t stand the alcohol burn. I wrote to complain to Crest, but they have not responded to my email. I have pictures of the lesions and the skin sloughing. I have not changed my lifestyle in any other way to make me look at anything else other than this product.

    • Wow! My mouth hurts something horrible. My gums are covered with ulcers. Was fine until I used Crest Pro Health 🙁 I know this post is old, but please give me some advice. I can’t even brush my teeth, that’s how bad it hurts

    • My boss is experiencing the exact same effects after using this product. She has already had multiple treatments and is going to a new doctor today. She stopped using it weeks ago and her issues continue to worsen. WHY is this product still on the shelves?

    • I just used Crest Health Pro Mouthwash for the first time and my gums started hurting. Then my teeth started hurting as well. By the third day, not realizing what was doing it, my entire mouth was burned. It felt like the skin on the roof of my mouth was gone. I couldn’t eat or drink and sleeping at night was impossible. I thought back to any change I had made and connected it to this product. I mentioned this to my sister. She had just had the same experience. Shad gone as far as testing for mouth and tongue cancer before her dentist told her to stop using this mouthwash. Why don’t they take it of the market?

  2. I’m getting the sloughing off and stringy saliva, but I’m only using Crest ProHealth toothpaste, NOT any mouthwash. So, I don’t think the problem is with the cationic ingredient in the mouthwash since it is not present in the toothpaste.

  3. I have stopped using any of the mouth washes as I have had the same experience of sloughing, canker sores and raw spots in my mouth just after using Crest and other washes. It got progressively worse over five days then started to heal on its own. I used a warm, saltwater rinse after the 5th day – NOT during the worse of it…can you imagine how that would burn?
    So, nothing for me but a toothbrush, floss, the mildest of tooth pastes and my regular 6 mo cleaning. Be well everyone.

  4. Excellent company Desert Crest has done a nubmer of projects for us, including two outdoor fireplaces and seating areas at two different homes. I am impressed? with the quality of work, attention to detail and value. I highly recommend them and plan on having them create an outdoor kitchen next. This is one contractor that shows up when he says he will and gets the job done in the time specified.

    • I used Crest Pro Health mouthwash for two days last week and now my tongue is covered in sores and hurts really bad. Nothing like this has ever happened to me.

      • Me too! I have only been using it for 5 days and it keeps getting progressively worse. My tongue is covered in sores and feels like its burnt and every day it moves further up my tongue!

    • The only way to adjust the tiles is to change the order of the images in the gallery. You do make a good point about panoramic images, and we’ve decided to add it to our planned future updates to see if we can get panoramic images to go full-width more often in the future.

  5. I used Crest Mouthwash just once and have the same redness on my tongue. Also, kind of feels like it has a slick coating and sensitive. This stuff should be banned! Check the web for lawsuits. They are mounting.

  6. Started crest pro health thought it was top of the line. Milder to use than listerine so I thought that was great. But a week in and my entire mouth and inside of cheeks is raw and painful. Seems like there are PLENTY of documented cases like these so why is this product on the market???

  7. My daughter rinsed with crest pro health 2 days ago and her mouth is still burning and has pronounced red dots on her tongue. Im disgusted that this product still remains on the shelves anywhere. Something needs to be done.

  8. Rinsed with Crest Pro Health and yesterday and am just now waking up with the worse gum pains and burning tongue sensation

  9. Crest mouthwash must be why my entire teeth and gums hurt so bad!! I changed to it about less than a week ago and today it was so bad I Felt like passing out! Went to the dentist and he tried to sell me a root canal hahaha! I got a prescription for amoxicillin and ibuprofen 800!! Thank goodness I came across this site, I’m never using this poison again!!!!

  10. Approximately 2 years ago, I got an ulcer on the side of my tongue. It became quite painful and wouldn’t heal. After several weeks, I saw the doctor about it. He prescribed an antifungul rinse, but it didn’t work, and the ulcer continued to worsen, even impeding my ability to eat and drink normally. The doctor referred me to an oral pathologist. She prescribed a topical gel (Lyderm), which I found a bit odd, as it would be washed off by my saliva almost immediately after applying it. As I suspected, there was no improvement, so they did a biopsy. It came back negative for anything serious, just “inflamed tissue”, but with no explanation. So, she continued to prescribe various rinses and ointments over the months, but none of it worked. The problem only got worse over time. More ulcers formed, now on both side of my tongue. They rub against the sharper edges of my teeth and become extremely inflamed and painful, even bleeding at times when they scrape a bit too hard. Another problem also began. I started waking up every morning with a terrible taste in my mouth and it feels like there’s some kind of awful coating of bacteria that I have to rinse off. So I started buying the Crest Pro-Health Mouthwash with alcohol, to kill whatever bacteria was invading my mouth. Oh my God, did it ever burn. Not just the ulcers, but my entire mouth, my tongue especially. But I figured this was “good pain”. I accepted it as confirmation that indeed my mouth must have something going on and this mouthwash was killing it. I swish until it stops burning, about a minute or so, then spit. Afterwards, it does feel better. Clean. And the ‘bacterial film’, or whatever it is, is gone. Until the next time I wake up, that is. It’s not just in the morning, either. If I take a nap in the afternoon, it’s the same when I wake. For some reason, sleep brings it on. It wasn’t until I came across this page that I ever heard anything about Crest Pro-Health products. As I mentioned, I didn’t start using the mouthwash until after the ulcers began, but I WAS using Crest Pro-Health Sensitivity Toothpaste. Could that have been the cause of the ulcers (which I still have, by the way)? The oral pathologist has basically given up, saying that sometimes with age people develop these issues and they just have to live with it. I couldn’t believe she told me that. I’m only 43, for God’s sake! And I’ve never heard of anyone having to “live with” incurable mouth ulcers. They are VERY painful and I’ve had to stop eating anything remotely spicey, I can’t put pepper on my food, I have to chew very slowly and carefully, or I end up scraping the edges of my teeth against the ulcers, or even worse, biting down on one, and then I’m in for days of intense pain, until it heals somewhat. It’s not exactly an environment conducive to healing, the sides of the tongue. Could my problem be a result of using Crest Pro-Health products? If so, why didn’t my dentist, family physician or oral pathologist figure that out. One would assume, if this is a known issue, that oral health professionals would explore it as an option when faced with a seemingly incurable problem such as mine.

  11. I used crest pro health clinical mouthwash. It’s awful! It pretty much burned all the skin off all parts of my mouth. Under my tongue and my gums all around my mouth are red and irritated. It feels like I rinsed my mouth with boiling hot water. It’s so painful! I can’t talk or smile or eat. I have to take ibuprofen to get through my day at work. This stuff should come with a warning. I don’t know why they have it on the market if it hurts people. My mouth is full of open raw skin.

  12. Recently I bought Oral B Pro Health Clinical Alcohol Free Fluoride Rinse Clean mint and after each use my gums and tongue start burning and my lips swell. After reading the comments from others, I suspect I’m allergic to the mouthwash. I’m going to stop using it.

  13. Hi my name is ulices I used crest mouth wash for about 3 times per day I fisnished the 500 ml bottle and after that I had a issue on my mouth it feels dry and it’s white the dryness went alil away but still feels dry I am scare that I cause myself something really serious over that mouth wast I check that I have a small bump like a ulcer but it doesn’t burn or hurts at all I stop using mouth wash … I feel like I have mocus on my throat . I don’t know why all this happens over mouth wash I went to the doctor and she said it could be a yeast infection over using too much mouth wash am scare to have cancer over the mouth wash I read that mouth wash cause that.

    • Ulices! Finishing that bottle won’t cause cancer. You don’t have to worry about that. It could have caused the yeast infection however.
      Just stay well hydrated and brush without toothpaste. Scrape your tongue. It should all return to normal. And stay in touch with your dentist. DrB.

      • Thank you .. well I forget to put it clear or específic I used in general mouth wash for about 2 months only and I could say i used about 5 bottles in about 2 months I never before in my life use them until now like I said I stop using the mouth wash but my only fear is to got cancer over that or something really serious cuz it’s already like 25 days and day 1 was really dry not it’s better but I still feel dry my saliva feel so wierd ..

  14. Hi my name ulices my question is ? I used crest pro mouth wash I finish my bottle 500 ml I used 3 times a day but after I finish the bottle I stared to feel my mouth really dry and mocus now I have 25 days my tongue was white , I don’t have no pain at all it’s just dry and the mocus my tongue is less white and my dryness it’s alil less I checked and I found a small bump by the tongue in the back I touched and it doesn’t hurt I don’t know what’s going on why the mouth wash make me feel this and also do imma be like this always? My doctor said it could be that I killed so many bacterias And I got yeast infección she got me nystatin and did it already for 3 days but I still almost the same . Thank you

  15. The mouth wash makes me feel like I need to dig at my gums and teeth even if I bleed a lot. WHY??? Its happening now and my blood filled up 4 tissues.

      • Apparently, Danny, you have never had a reaction to the Crest Pro Health or you would not have answered Abigail in the way you did. The mouthwash caused her problem. Not the fact “she picked” at her mouth. She just mentioned she felt like that. My mouth felt burned. Crest Pro Health is a dangerous product.

  16. Abigail, I had the same reaction. After 3 days, I couldn’t even drink water. Contact the company directly! You will see many people are having serious reactions and this product needs to come off the shelf. They sent me a nice letter and coupons but that wasn’t what I wanted. I want it gone. I have a health issue that can cause seizures if I dehydrate. Saving money was NOT my goal!

  17. I have been using Crest Pro health mouthwash for about 2 mths and have noticed small pimples on my gums. I went to dentist for regular cleaning today and there is now a crack in my tooth and infection. I kept telling them I did nothing to injure I just changed my mouthwash to Crest Pro health. This is a dangerous product.

  18. i am having swelling of my lips and face on both sides. The only thing that I have done differently is to gargle one time with crest 3 D white. also swelling on left side of throat. Don’t know if mouthwash caused it. It is not painful. Currently taking amoxicillian 875 mg to try to clear it up.

  19. Started using Crest Pro health a week ago. Switched from listerine in which I had no problem, just thought the Crest was better for my gum issue. I too have had a terrible issue with a raw tongue with red bumps on it. It is worse after sleeping as well. Tossing the bottle at 6.79 a waste and sad. I too was trying to figure out what was going on. My only change was the mouth wash.

    • Mona,

      There are so many people having problems with the Crest Pro Health products. I have contacted them and they sent a nice reply letter but took no action. My sister and her son had a bad reaction. In fact, at first her dentist thought she had mouth cancer! I have a health issue and could do anything more than sip water for three days which could have caused me to dehydrate and go into seizures. I would like to see them take this product off the market! They have other good products to sell. I’m not sure why they continue to sell it when over 600 people have had problems with it. The toothpaste will even cause problems. I used baking soda until I got over the damage.

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