Listerine Total Care Zero Mouthwash Review

Sunday, January 22, 2012

DISCLOSURE: I received a full size bottle of Listerine Total Care Zero Mouthwash to review from and Listerine.  All opinions are my own.

I've never been a regular mouthwash user.  I've always found the burn of mouthwashes to be too much to handle.  I would use mouthwash every now and then, especially on days that I felt I needed some extra cleaning or extra breath freshening.  But I could never do it every day.

My husband, on the other hand, is pretty fanatical about oral healthcare.  He brushes and flosses at least twice a day.  He'll rinse with an antiseptic or fluoride rinse at night.  He has the kids flossing and using their fluoride rinse (Listerine Smart Rinse!) each night.  He sees the dentist every six months.  He hasn't had a cavity in years.

When I found out I would be receiving a bottle of Listerine Total Care Zero to try, I decided I should start using some mouthwash so I would have something to compare the new mouthwash to.  It so happened that we had the regular Listerine Total Care Mouthwash in Fresh Mint in our medicine cabinet.

So, I started using the regular Listerine Total Care a few days before I got the  Zero version.  The instructions said to swish 10 mL in your mouth for 1 minute and then spit out.  As soon as I put some in my mouth and started swishing, I could feel it burning my tongue.  As I continued swishing, I could feel the insides of my mouth started to burn.  By the time the minute was up, I was totally ready to spit it out.  Even after I spit out the regular Listerine Total Care mouthwash, I could still feel the burning in my mouth.  It did leave a somewhat minty feeling in my mouth, though not what you would traditionally think of as minty breath.

When I finally got the bottle of Listerine Total Care Zero mouthwash, I used it the night I received it.  I brushed and flossed as usual.  Then I poured 10 mL of the rinse into a Dixie cup and started swishing it.  Right away, I could tell a difference.  The taste was somewhat sweeter than the regular Listerine Total Care.  I noticed that my tongue wasn't burning.  It was more comfortable to swish for the full minute than the original Total Care formula.  Though, once I spit it out, I did start to feel some burning in my mouth.  It was different though.  Not quite as intense, but still enough to feel that the mouthwash was doing its job.

One drawback that I have found in both of these mouthwashes is the gross feeling it leaves on my teeth and gums after I've spit it out.  I've had to spit in the sink for an extra 30 seconds after I've spit it out to try and get the film off of my teeth.  I assume it's the flouride in the rinse.  It's similar to how I feel at the dentist after they suction that foamy flouride stuff they put in your mouth at the end.  I've often had to rinse my mouth after spitting the mouthwash out to try and get rid of that feeling.

Both the Listerine Total Care and Total Care Zero provide 6 benefits:
  • Helps prevent cavities
  • Restores enamel
  • Strengthens teeth
  • Kills bad breath germs
  • Cleans the whole mouth
  • Freshens breath
The Zero version provides the same benefits as the original Total Care mouthwash but with less intensity and zero alcohol.

Because the product contains zero alcohol, it is recommended that children as young as 6 can use it.  My daughter and oldest son both currently use Listerine Smart Rinse.  When I told my daughter she could try the new purple mouthwash, she was excited.  She's 7.  I poured her a small amount in a cup and let her use some.  As soon as she put some in her mouth, I could tell she didn't like it.  The taste is definitely different from the bubblegum flavor she's used to.  She couldn't even use all the rinse I poured out for her and she couldn't swish it for even 30 seconds.  She spat it out and said she didn't like it.

Would you recommend it?
After using the mouthwash for about a week now, I'm still undecided.  I like that it provides all those benefits and it's great that it doesn't burn while I'm swishing it in my mouth.  I don't like the filmy feeling it leaves in my mouth after I've spit it out.  While this may be because, it's a fluoride rinse and not just a regular mouthwash, I'm not sure if I want to continue using this or just go back to the Cool Mint Listerine Antiseptic Rinse I've used in the past.  I'd say, if you like fluoride rinses but hate the burn of regular Listerine, give this a try!

How much does it cost?  A 16.9 fl oz bottle costs roughly about $5.00.

Where can I buy it?    Available at all major drug stores, mass merchandisers, grocery stores and online retailers.


  1. I used regularly the regular Total Care as opposed to now the total care zero that I'm using now, and I don't know if it's purely psychological but I saw a more visible difference with the whitening in the normal total care as opposed to the zero kind.

  2. That could be true. The Zero version, while having the same active ingredient as the regular Total Care, did have different inactive ingredients. I didn't really notice any difference in how white my teeth were with either mouthwash. But I've also slacked off on using mouthwash since writing this review.