There are conflicting reports about whether mouthwash does more harm than good. You might wonder this yourself when your twice-daily rinse with mouthwash starts to cause teeth sensitivity—or even toothache. How can a medicated product intended for oral use be causing toothache? And why does your toothache seem to be getting worse each time you use mouthwash?
Any benefits of mouthwash are perhaps only applicable when your teeth are healthy. When mouthwash is triggering toothache, it's a sign that your teeth may not be as healthy as you assumed. It's also a sign that you should discontinue using your mouthwash immediately. Please don't try to push through the pain, thinking the mouthwash needs more time and exposure to rid you of the cause of your toothache. Although your mouthwash isn't the direct cause of your toothache, it has become part of the problem.
A tooth's first line of defense is its enamel—the highly-mineralized outer coating of a tooth. When enamel is lost, the next layer is uncovered. This part of the tooth is called dentin. Most of a tooth's overall bulk is dentin. Enamel and dentin don't contain any nerves, so can't feel any sensation whatsoever. Any physical sensation in a tooth comes from its nerve, or pulp, which is in the pulp chamber at the heart of the tooth.
Dentin has an abundance of tiny canals that lead to the nerve. The harmful bacteria contained in tooth decay eventually reach the nerve after corroding the tooth's outer enamel. Dentin can be similarly decayed, but bacteria can also reach the nerve via the dentin's microscopic canals. However, other irritants can reach the nerve in a similar fashion, and your pain may be because your tooth pulp is being exposed to mouthwash—which can be very caustic to certain tissues in your body.
There can be a correlation between toothache and mouthwash, and if you notice this particular trigger, please see your dentist. You may have untreated tooth decay. Regardless of whether a mouthwash often contains alcohol (which varies depending on the specific product), all mouthwashes have antibacterial properties. This won't kill any bacteria affecting your tooth pulp, and will simply further irritate your tooth's nerve. See your dentist and have the tooth inspected. Any decay (which may not be conspicuous) will be removed, and the tooth can then receive its filling. Once this work has been completed, your toothache should be a thing of the past.
You may want to take this opportunity to ask your dentist whether mouthwash is wise in your particular case, and taking your dental history into consideration, your dentist can recommend the best product for you.
Contact a local dentist to learn more about toothache.