Should kids use mouthwash?

Tooth Character

Parents should always be on the lookout for ways to help their children maintain and care for their teeth and gums. Sometimes, children want to add things to the oral health regimen like using mouthwash. But how effective is this for children? What are the implications of using it, and when is the appropriate time for children to begin using mouthwash? Flossing and brushing are the best methods for preventing tooth decay, but children may develop an interest in using mouthwash to help their oral hygiene. 

Young children are not advised to use mouthwash because mouthwashes may contain alcohol or fluoride components which can have harmful effects when swallowed in large amounts. It is less likely for older kids and teenagers to ingest the products—unlike younger children, particularly below the age of six. Children between six to twelve years should be supervised by adults if they have to use mouthwash for their daily oral hygiene routine. Those under the age six should avoid using fluoride mouth wash, because they could easily swallow the fluoride components.  Excess fluoride exposure for children whose permanent teeth are not fully developed can result in fluorosis, a harmless but unsightly condition that leaves spots or streaks on the teeth.

Teenagers can use mouthwash as a breath-freshening agent and, in the process, reap the benefits of a fluoride rinse. Children who have braces are good candidates for using fluoride rinses. The rinse protects their teeth from producing acid-producing plaque bacteria that builds up under the brackets. Numerous mouth rinses contain alcohol. If alcohol content is a concern as a parent, mouthwashes with no alcohol content exist and are just as efficient for freshening breath. Children should constantly be reminded that the use of mouth rinse does not replace daily flossing and tooth brushing.  Mouthwash is just one more thing that can be added to help the preservation of a healthy smile.

Another important thing to consider is the manufacturer’s label. Precautions are outlined affirming age recommendations for use of a particular fluoride mouthwash. It is usually advisable to speak to your kid’s dentist for accurate and informed utility of any mouth rinse. Regular use of mouthwash provides additional protection against cavities as compared to those of using toothpaste alone. Such precautions will help prevent tooth decay in your children.