Is Mouthwash Safe For Children?

Regular mouthwash use offers many dental health benefits. However, parents might worry that some of its contents could pose health threats to their children. If swallowed, many types of mouthwash can be harmful to a child's health. It's important to take care when starting your children on a mouthwash regime to ensure that they don't swallow any harmful substances.

At what age should children begin using mouthwash?

In general, kids should begin using mouthwash around the age of 7 years old. By this age, children should be able to understand that mouthwash is not to be swallowed. They should be able to learn to swish, gargle and spit out mouthwash so that they can experience the full benefits without any risk. 

How should you go about introducing mouthwash into your child's dental healthcare regime? The following are a few tips on how you can help your child take advantage of the many benefits of using a mouthwash that can both prevent cavities and improve cleanliness:

  • Test your child with water- The important idea to get across when introducing your child to mouthwash is that mouthwash shouldn't be swallowed. You can test your child by giving him or her a cup of water to swish around in the mouth before spitting the water out. You might have to perform a few demonstrations yourself to get your child to learn to gargle. Make sure that your child succeeds in spitting out all of the water without swallowing any. 
  • Use a mouthwash designed for children- Mouthwashes are available that are specifically formulated for children's use. Kids' mouthwash is typically flavored so that it is pleasing to kids. It will usually also contain fluoride, which helps prevent cavities. A mouthwash designed for children might leave out alcohol- which is used in adults' mouthwash to fight germs- to increase kids' safety.
  • Supervise- Close supervision when starting your kids on mouthwash is important. Initially, you should insist that your child only take mouthwash in your presence. It's best to keep mouthwash out of reach until you are 100 percent certain that it will be used appropriately by your child. 
  • Stress the importance of brushing- Kids should not be given the impression that using mouthwash can take the place of brushing. While mouthwash can complement a dental healthcare regime by controlling bacteria and preventing cavities, only brushing and flossing can be effective at removing food particles and other debris from the teeth. 

Talk to a dentist like Scott A. Wright, DDS for more tips on helping your child start an effective mouthwash routine.