So your child is growing up – and with your help, he or she is developing a strong oral hygiene routine that’s making you proud!
Your child is already using a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss in their routine, but what about mouthwash? When should you start using mouthwash? Is mouthwash even safe for children?
Here’s what you need to know about mouthwash for children!
Is mouthwash necessary?
In general, mouthwash is highly recommended for teens and adults. Mouthwash is excellent for clearing out any remaining bacteria or debris after brushing and flossing.
Did you know that when you brush your teeth, you only reach 25% of your mouth (Listerine®)? Using an antibacterial rinse as the last step in your oral hygiene routine is an efficient way to cleanse your mouth and reach spaces that your toothbrush can’t.
Is mouthwash necessary for young children? No, in fact, mouthwash can be harmful for young children.
When should children begin using mouthwash?
It’s recommended that you wait until the age of 7 or 8 (depending on your child’s development) to integrate mouthwash into your child’s daily routine. Before the age of 7, it can be difficult to understand the concept of swishing mouthwash around and then spitting it out.
Young children are prone to swallowing mouthwash, which can unfortunately put their health at risk. Swallowing mouthwash that has alcohol or fluoride in it can lead to development problems.
As a general rule of thumb, wait until your child is at least 7 years old to consider introducing them to the world of mouthwash. Use your judgement to determine whether your child is ready for mouthwash.
Even then, pay close attention to the mouthwash formula you choose.
Are all mouthwash formulas safe for children?
Not all mouthwashes are approved for kids. There are two common mouthwash ingredients to consider before choosing a formula: alcohol and fluoride.
Although fluoride is beneficial for strengthening teeth enamel, it’s best to wait until your child knows how to properly spit out mouthwash before choosing a formula with fluoride.
“Fluorosis” is a childhood condition that develops due to a child consuming excess fluoride. Fluoride is a key ingredient in many mouthwashes, due to its ability to protect and strengthen the enamel. Consuming too much fluoride at an early age can cause permanent white marks or discoloration to appear on the teeth.
Many antibacterial mouthwashes contain alcohol too. These mouthwashes should be avoided at every age! Ingesting mouthwash as a child can lead to developmental issues, stunt physical growth, and cause various symptoms, like vomiting or difficulty breathing.
Alcohol is damaging at every age. This harsh ingredient disrupts the natural pH of the mouth, dries out the mouth, and can further irritate existing symptoms or conditions.
Any mouthwash that has alcohol in it is not a safe mouthwash for young children – and it’s best to stay leery of fluoride. Once your child grasps the concept of spitting out mouthwash and you feel comfortable with them using it, a fluoride anti-cavity rinse is a good idea!
What is the best antibacterial mouthwash for children?
With our knowledge about alcohol and fluoride in tow, here are some safe mouthwash options for children:
- hello Oral Care Kids Rinse
The ‘hello’ brand Kids’ mouthwash is fluoride-free, SLS-free, alcohol-free, and considered safe to swallow! This antiseptic mouthwash is a natural option made specifically for young children, around the age of 6. It’s formulated with natural watermelon flavor, soothing aloe vera and high quality sweeteners. It cleanses your little one’s mouth, leaving their breath fresh and their teeth sparkly!
- TheraBreath for Kids! Anticavity Oral Rinse
Deemed safe for kids, TheraBreath for Kids Anticavity Oral Rinse is an alcohol-free, fluoride mouthwash ideal for children who understand not to swallow mouthwash. Once you’re confident that your child won’t swallow their mouthful of mouthwash, transitioning to a rinse that includes sodium fluoride is ideal for strengthening young teeth, as well as preventing cavities and plaque.
- Listerine® Smart Rinse® Kids Fluoride Mouthwash
Listerine Smart Rinse for kids helps protect and strengthen growing teeth! This alcohol-free fluoride oral rinse with a kid-friendly Berry Splash flavor helps prevent cavities and kills bad breath germs. It carries the American Dental Association seal of acceptance and has a special feature that tints food particles and debris so kids can see immediate proof in the sink of a cleaner mouth!
How often should children use mouthwash?
Using mouthwash at least once daily can help keep small mouths clean, strong, and cavity-free! Whether you choose to use mouthwash in the morning, at night, or both, show your child how to finish off their oral hygiene routine with a good rinse.
Read the instructions on the bottle to know how long to rinse each time. It’s generally advised to rinse with mouthwash for 30 seconds to 1 minute before spitting it out.
Work with your child to develop strong oral hygiene routines and supervise them to ensure that they’re using mouthwash properly!
Still have questions about mouthwash for children?
We’re here to answer your questions, and we want you and your child to know your options! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at any time.
Dr. Sierra, Dr. Kwon, Dr. Patel and our team are here to help guide you and your child. We offer kinder, gentler dentistry for kids and teens. It is our goal that your child develops and maintains a positive association with dental care and we do everything we can to create a pleasant, supportive, and fun environment for our little patients.