When Can I Use Listerine After Tooth Extraction?

Written, Edited, and Reviewed by Dr David Chen.

If you want to rinse with Listerine after a tooth extraction, you should wait at least 48 hours before you do so. Unbeknownst to you, there are adverse effects if you rinse with it too soon after your surgical procedure.

Listerine - Cool Mint

With that being said, despite its wonderful antiseptic characteristics, Listerine isn’t the number one choice as a mouth rinse after an extraction. Most dentists recommend a simple salt water rinse and we’ll explain why.

Waiting prevents adverse effects

Rinsing with Listerine within 48 hours of a tooth removal or wisdom teeth removal, can develop undesired side effects. The two most notable adverse effects from rinsing with it can affect clotting and induce pain.

Affects clotting

Rinsing too soon with it will affect the blood clotting process of your tooth socket. It will either prolong the time it takes to clot or dislodge the clot and make you keep bleeding.

  • Impaired clotting. Studies have shown that intaking alcohol can increase the clotting time and decrease the clot firmness. That is from a mere 0.4 pH increase in acidity from neutral. Listerine contains 26.9% alcohol which is very acidic, much more than a beer. The delayed clotting is why you shouldn’t drink alcohol after wisdom teeth removal.
  • Dislodged clot. You’re not supposed to rinse with any solutions within the first 24 hours after your surgical tooth extraction. Vigorous rinsing may dislodge the blood clot that is trying to stabilize and that will cause you to keep on bleeding.

Therefore, if you want to use it as a mouth rinse, it would be safer to wait until after 48 hours have passed in order to minimize these adverse effects.

It hurts

Due to the high alcohol content in Listerine (21.6% to 26.9%) it will burn when you rinse with it. In fact, the burning sensation will be more intense than usual because you’re rinsing with it on an open wound (tooth socket).

You’re in enough discomfort as it is from the surgery, do you really want to experience additional pain from using this? For this reason, we recommend a more gentle alternative like saline instead, which does not contain any alcohol nor is it acidic.

Note: You can mitigate the discomfort if you use the Zero Alcohol versions of Listerine. However, it’ll still give you a slight tingle which is due to the essential oils in the ingredients.

Can it cause a dry socket?

Fortunately, even if you are non-compliant and insist on using Listerine before the 48 hour mark, you won’t develop a dry socket. Studies have shown that the development of this condition is due to biological reasons and not mechanical ones.

Ultimately, if you rinse with it, the clot may come out and you’ll experience persistent bleeding but what won’t happen is a dry socket. The intraoral rinsing pressure is what can potentially dislodge the clot.

Known Risk Factors
  • Smoking. Studies have shown that smokers are 3 times more likely to get it when compared with non-smokers.
  • Traumatic extraction. Difficult extractions increase the incidence.
  • Birth control. Studies have shown that the incidence of alveolar osteitis was significantly higher for those on birth control.
  • Middle of Menstrual cycle. Middle of a menstrual cycle can increase chances of getting it.
  • Had it before. If you’ve had alveolar osteitis in the past, you’re more likely to get it once more.

Better alternative rinse

The preferred mouth rinse to use after an extraction is plain salt water. That is the general consensus among dentists and oral surgeons. It is what you should be using for the entire first week after your procedure with the exception of the first 24 hours.

salt on a spoon

Benefits of rinsing with salt water after an extraction:

  • Gentle. It doesn’t cause any discomfort since it isn’t alcoholic and doesn’t burn.
  • Antiseptic. The salt will reduce inflammation, pain, and bacterial biofilm.
  • Dislodges stuck food. If you have food stuck in your tooth socket or wisdom tooth hole, rinsing with salt water can help remove it.
  • Inexpensive. Salt is readily available and certainly costs less than a brand name mouthwash.
How to make a salt water rinse
  1. Add a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water.
  2. Stir the saline mixture lightly.
  3. Rinse vigorously for 2 minutes by swishing around.
  4. Spit out and repeat after every meal.

Listerine vs Salt water rinse

If you wait 48 hours after your extraction, you may use Listerine once more but we’ll give you reasons as to why salt water is a better choice.

AttributesListerineSalt water
Burning sensationYesNo
Dislodge foodYesYes
Affects clottingYesNo
Salt water rinse vs Listerine

In our opinion, rinsing with saline is the clear winner here. In fact, that is precisely what we personally recommend to all of our patients after an extraction or wisdom tooth extraction.


You should definitely not use Listerine within the first 48 hours after your tooth removal because there are side effects. However, after that time period, you may rinse with it if you prefer.

Although the preferred and recommended mouthwash to use after an oral surgery procedure is actually just a simple salt water rinse. It is effective, easy to make, and inexpensive. You really can’t go wrong with it.


1311 Jackson Ave
Long Island City, NY 11101

Email Us


Dental Services

If you're in NYC and in need of a dentist, please schedule an appointment with our clinical dental practice, 1311 Jackson Ave Dental.

Our purpose at afterva, is to encourage you to seek in person care with a doctor. It's not meant to be a substitute for medical advice. Each situation is unique and that makes it impossible to diagnose and treat without a clinical exam.

sitemap | privacy policy