If you use mouthwash as part of your oral care routines, you may wonder if it’s appropriate for kids to use. After all, mouthwash can be quite beneficial when used correctly. It can get rid of bacteria, counter bad breath, and contribute to enamel remineralization (depending on the type of mouthwash you use). So when is it appropriate for kids to use mouthwash?
Mouthwash isn’t recommended for children under the age of 6. At this point, they’re focused on figuring out how brushing their teeth works. Depending on their age, they’re still swallowing the toothpaste on their toothbrush rather than spitting it out. That can make using mouthwash dangerous since many have ingredients like alcohol or fluoride that can make them sick if swallowed. Additionally, permanent teeth are still developing at this age. Too much fluoride while permanent teeth are developing leads to fluorosis, which creates spots or streaks on the teeth.
Children who are between the ages of 6-12 may be old enough to start using a child-friendly mouthwash. The most important thing is to make sure they will spit out all of the mouthwash, not swallowing any of it. Have your kids practice with water first, since it’s easy to swallow mouthwash when you’re swishing or gargling it. You can graduate them to mouthwash once they’ve mastered spitting it all out. Talk to their dentist about using mouthwash before you start your kids on it and remember to supervise them using it the first several times to make sure they don’t swallow any.
12 and Up
Teens can benefit greatly from using mouthwash. By this age, they’re usually more cognizant of their hygiene and how their breath smells, something that mouthwash can help with. It can be especially beneficial for teens with braces. Using mouthwash can help protect against tooth decay by helping remove bacteria and food particles from the tiny spaces around braces and between the teeth. It’s a good option for teens to use at school after they eat lunch if they don’t have time to brush.
Whether or not a child should use mouthwash depends on how old they are, their development, and the mouthwash you have available to them. Teach your kids that mouthwash isn’t meant to be a substitute for brushing and flossing, but can help make their mouths even cleaner than brushing and flossing alone. That way they can get the benefits of using mouthwash and have even healthier teeth.
Do you have questions about oral care for children? Stellar Kids Dentistry has answers! Click here for quick answers to some common questions.