As a parent, you’re always looking for ways to improve your child’s health. You’ve probably noticed mouthwash with kid- friendly designs and flavors in the oral care aisle of your local store and wondered if your child should be using mouthwash. These marketing techniques can be a bit deceptive when considering your child’s overall health. Read below to learn more about mouthwash and when your child should begin to use it.
Medical trials show that consistent use of a fluoride mouthwash can provide added protection against cavities over that provided by a fluoride toothpaste. Mouthwash is healthy for the entire mouth – from the teeth, to the gums, and even the tongue. It helps rinse away bacteria that brushing and flossing may leave behind and can also prevent gingivitis, also known as “gum disease”.
Mouthwash can be particularly useful to children who wear braces, since the wires can become obstacles when brushing and flossing. It can help remove plaque from easy-to-miss nooks and crannies such as around the brackets and wires.
Plus, mouthwash helps freshen breath! Who doesn’t enjoy a having a minty mouth?
When should my child begin to use mouthwash?
In most cases, children can begin to use mouthwash at around seven years. But this is only a general guideline. Be sure that your child can swish without swallowing before allowing them to use mouthwash on their own. To test, ask your child to swish a bit of water around their mouth and then spit in the sink. If capable to perform on their own, then they are likely ready to use mouthwash. We suggest that you supervise the first few times.
Even if you think your child can swish on their own, we advise you to wait until your child is at least seven years old for two reasons:
1. Extra fluoride is not recommended for teeth still in the forming process. Too much fluoride early on can cause fluorosis, which is a condition that causes changes to the color and texture of the teeth.
2. Children under six are more likely to swallow the mouthwash, which can be harmful to the body.
If mouthwash swishes between the teeth, can my child forego flossing?
NO! Flossing is important to remove plaque in between the teeth. Mouthwash cannot substitute the benefits of flossing but is meant to help boost the effects of flossing and brushing.
If you have any concerns about the use of mouthwash, check with your pediatric dentist. We’re always here to help!