Only about 35% of children make their dental hygiene a priority. And that’s no surprise—after all, it’s a lot more fun to play with your friends than to brush twice a day. But for parents, there’s nothing more important than making sure that their kids are on the path towards good oral health from an early age.
So how can you get them into the habit of good dental care? One great way is by introducing them to mouthwash! Mouthwash makes oral hygiene simple. While mouthwash does not replace the need for regular toothbrushing, your child will be less likely to leave food in their teeth, and bad breath will no longer plague your household. That’s one less thing you have to worry about as a parent. However, you will have to worry about whether you chose the right product.
Here we’ll answer all your questions about mouthwash, including when children should start using it and what happens if they swallow too much. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about mouthwash for kids.
Is Mouthwash Good for Kids?
According to most experts, children under the age of six shouldn’t use mouthwash unsupervised.
Some mouthwashes contain alcohol and other ingredients that can irritate a child’s tender gums and tissues.
If you choose to give your child a fluoride rinse, always use the amount specified on the label. Most importantly, make sure that an independent laboratory has tested the product. That way, you can be sure that the product really does what it claims to do.
When Should Kids Start Using Mouthwash?
While most dentists recommend children use mouthwash at age six, some children aren’t ready for this step until long after their sixth birthday. If your child is a good brusher and has a low chance of getting cavities, you may not need to start using mouthwash until later in their life. Also, if your child eats their toothpaste instead of spitting, you should probably wait until they stop before you introduce certain dental products.
However, if you’re concerned about your child’s oral health because of bleeding gums or bad breath, ask your dentist if it’s safe to introduce mouthwash early. Your dentist is always your go-to consultant. They can help determine the best treatment plan for your little one’s teeth and provide useful tips for safe ways to use mouthwash at an earlier age.
What is the Difference Between Kids and Adult Mouthwash?
When buying mouthwash for kids, you may notice that the active ingredients differ from those on your average Listerine bottle. The alcohol content is lower in mouthwashes designed for children, and they also contain less fluoride than adult brands. This means that your child’s mouthwash won’t burn or sting their gums and they will get the appropriate amount of fluoride.
Kids mouthwash also has more fun, kid-friendly flavors available. Watermelon and bubble gum are common choices, and they’re much more appealing to kids than a bottle labeled “Original Formula.”
Facts on Fluoride
Fluoride is a mineral that plays an essential role in strengthening teeth. It helps prevent tooth decay and makes the enamel more resistant to acid attacks from foods like sugar.
However, there are some things you should know about using it with a child.
For starters, their developing systems aren’t used to handling high amounts of the mineral yet. Ingesting too much fluoride can cause fluorosis, a condition that causes adult teeth to become brittle and stained even before they erupt into the mouth. Fluoride in very high amounts can also be toxic so if kids do accidentally swallow some of their mouthwash, a doctor should check them out. If the recommended doses are used however, fluoride is very safe and effective.
Should Kids Rinse with Water After Mouthwash?
You might think you’re doing your kid a favor by rinsing their mouth after using a fluoride mouthwash, but this is actually counteractive. Fluoride prevents cavities, so it’s important to leave the fluoride in their mouth for as long as possible.
If there’s none left in their mouth because they rinsed, it can’t help their teeth. Instead, you should encourage your child to swish the mouthwash around for about one minute before spitting it out; no water needed.
What Happens if a Child Swallows Mouthwash?
Swallowing a small amount of mouthwash is unlikely to cause any harm. However, your child may have an upset stomach and nausea if a large amount is ingested.
If your child swallows a large amount of mouthwash, they may experience trouble breathing and dizziness. When these symptoms appear, head to the emergency room for further evaluation. You should bring along the bottle of mouthwash if possible so that you can provide information about what happened. It is important to store mouthwash out of reach of children.
What Is the Best Mouthwash for Kids?
You should look out for alcohol-free varieties of mouthwash because they won’t cause irritation or dry out the tissues in a child’s mouth. You should also look for a mouthwash that doesn’t contain any sweeteners. Sweeteners can cause tooth decay and staining, so you should avoid products with these ingredients.
As always with any over-the-counter product, it’s best to consult with your dentist. They can recommend a mouthwash that’s safe. They’ll also be able to tell you how much is okay for your child to use and when they should avoid using it entirely.
How to Teach Children to Use Mouthwash?
Besides letting your young ones practice with water first, the best way to teach them how to use mouthwash is by example. When you’re using your own mouthwash, let them watch you and then have them mimic what you’re doing.
And when they’re ready for their own bottle of mouthwash, supervise them during use. You can be sure that your child is using a small amount, and you’ll know for certain whether they rinsed thoroughly.
When they’re done rinsing, give them a light congratulation. Showing them that rinsing their mouth is a good thing will encourage them to do it more often.
Make Dental Care Fun for Your Kids
Children may use mouthwash to improve their oral hygiene. They don’t have to use it as soon as they lose their baby teeth, though. It’s best to follow your dentist’s recommendation for beginning a mouthwash regimen, but most children aren’t happy about seeing the dentist.
Dr. Duffy’s office is full of toys and games to keep children occupied during their appointment, so they enjoy visiting the dentist rather than fearing it. If you’re looking for a dentist that can provide your child with comfort, then contact Dr. Duffy’s office today.