Children should be taught at a very early age productive habits regarding their oral hygiene so that their teeth and gums will remain healthy throughout the course of their lifetime. By conducting a simple browse at your local store, you will quickly find that there are multitudes of products pertaining to oral care designed especially for children.

These integrate exciting packaging features and enjoyable flavors to attract children and create a sense of excitement about taking care of their dental health. Included among these products are mouthwashes. Yes, your child should be using mouthwash as part of their oral health regimen, but not until they are 6 years of age or older. Continue reading to learn more.

Child Brushing Teeth in Mirror

Why Should Mouthwash Be Avoided in Kids Under 6?

There are several reasons why you should wait to introduce mouthwash in your child’s oral health regimen. The following outline the main points:

  1. While the teeth are always growing and developing, this is especially true for kids that are under the age of 6. For this age group, there must be a certain level of exposure when it comes to fluoride. Too much may result in complications, though. By introducing mouthwash too early, your child’s teeth may suffer from being exposed to too much fluoride. When this happens, a situation referred to as “fluorosis” may develop. This results in the formation of streaks and/or spots on the teeth.
  2. Many children under the age of 6 simply do not understand that mouthwash is not a drink and that it should not be swallowed. It is very difficult for some kids to grasp the concept of just placing the mouthwash in their mouth and swishing it around and then spitting it out. It takes some practice to get used to doing. By the age of 6, most kids are ready for this task and capable of understanding it completely.
  3. Finally, mouthwash products often contain ingredients such as alcohol, fluoride, and other chemicals. If these are swallowed, they may prove to be toxic to the child. Upon ingestion of these substances, many kids may develop unpleasant symptoms, such as becoming intoxicated, nausea, vomiting, and other forms of gastrointestinal upset.

What Does Mouthwash Do?

The purpose and intent behind mouthwash products is to clean areas of the mouth that the toothbrush may miss so that certain risks – such as the development of gum disease or cavities – may be avoided. For those over the age of 6, the fluoride contained in the mouthwash helps to protect the enamel of the teeth. This aids in the prevention of tooth decay.

It works to reduce the amount of bacteria or plaque that forms naturally on the teeth. As a result, it also slows the development of tartar on each of the teeth. Mouthwash is also effective at reducing the possibility that gingivitis will develop. Finally, it also helps in ensuring that the breath is freshened.


The Types

Generally speaking, there are two main types of mouthwash. One is cosmetic and one is therapeutic.

The cosmetic type simply aids in washing away debris from the teeth and gum and works to freshen the breath.

The therapeutic mouthwashes contain ingredients that actually work to eliminate bacteria and plaque. This type also helps in preventing gum disease, tooth decay, and bacteria that causes bad breath to develop.

You may purchase both types over-the-counter; however, there are many mouthwashes that are only available by prescription. These often include higher concentrations of certain ingredients – such as fluoride.

teen family smiling with clean teeth

When Do I Know My Child is Ready for Mouthwash Treatment?

Each child is different. In most circumstances, a child is definitely ready by the age of 6, but as a parent, you must work with your child’s pediatric dentist to determine exactly when it is time to introduce mouthwash into your child’s oral health regimen. The dentist will be able to determine the dental needs of your child.

Together, you can determine if they are cognitively ready for the integration of mouthwash. They must simply understand that the substance is only a swish and not a drink. They must be capable of swishing and spitting the product. It is often best to start with a small cap of water and test your child out. If they are capable of swishing and spitting the water, it is likely safe to introduce mouthwash.

What Type of Mouthwash Should I Buy for My Child?

Once you are ready to purchase mouthwash, it is quite likely that you will find that the selection is a bit overwhelming. You may narrow down the selection by only choosing from those that have been directly approved by the American Dental Association. It will include a special seal on it that says “ADA”. You may want to bypass the products that contain alcohol; however, it is important o select from those mouthwashes that contain fluoride.

Once you have your child use the product, make sure you follow the instructions listed on the bottle. You should supervise your child when using the product for a while. To make it more enjoyable, you may even integrate fun little games during their tooth care time to make it more exciting.

Dental Care

It is essential that your child sees a dentist at least twice a year. We here at Richmond Pediatric Dentistry specialize in dental care services and treatments for children of all ages. We welcome all families and work closely to ensure that each child experiences optimal dental health.

We will evaluate your child’s teeth, gums, and surrounding structures to determine their individual needs. We can address any questions or concerns that you have. We will also work to ensure that your child is as comfortable as possible. We also work with most insurance plans and accept Care Credit.

If you would like more information or would simply like to get your child set up with an appointment, you may contact us today by calling: 765-966-7602