What Parents Should Know about Letting Children Use Mouthwash
Although you might not hesitate to pick up any mouthwash on the shelf and use it regularly, when it comes to your children, there are some important considerations. Here's what you need to know when it comes to mouthwash and your children.
Age should be a factor in the decision to start kids on mouthwash. Most children age 6 and younger aren't ready for mouthwash. If a mouthwash contains fluoride — which does help prevent tooth decay — it can affect the condition of the teeth when they first start to form. Too much fluoride can make the surface of your children's teeth bumpy, or cause white or brown spots. It's best avoided during these early years.
Swishing mouthwash is a skill. Just as kids must learn to drink from a cup, they must learn to swish their mouthwash properly. For younger children, the temptation is to swish and swallow, as they might do with a beverage. Not to mention that you want them to be able to spit well enough to hit the sink rather than dribbling it down their fronts. A child who can swish and spit water out is probably ready to do the same with mouthwash. Younger children may also balk at the taste initially, so dilute the mouthwash with water for a while or find one with a mild flavor.
The Mouthwash Advantage
Mouthwash doesn't take the place of flossing and brushing. Mouthwash can, however, freshen breath, which is big deal when you're a tween or teen. Mouthwash can also help children and teens who wear braces loosen bits of food that might get stuck in the brackets. For younger children who still aren't experts with flossing and brushing, mouthwash can help keep teeth and gums in hard-to-reach areas cleaner. Once a child's teeth have developed, fluoride in the mouthwash can help protect teeth from cavities.
The Mouthwash Game
At around the age of 7 or 8, you can start to play the mouthwash game with your kids. Give them a little mouthwash and have them start swishing. Time them with a stopwatch to ensure the swishing lasts at least one minute (and make sure they don't swallow it). The game is also an opportunity to supervise flossing and brushing. Remind your kids that mouthwash is “a little something extra,” and that even when they play the mouthwash game they should still floss daily and brush twice per day.
These daily routines can help your children have good oral health. In addition, they should have regular visits with a pediatric dentist. At Wright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry, we offer routine dental care, emergency care and restorative procedures, as well as comfort measures like sedation and nitrous oxide. Please call us for all your dental care needs, questions or concerns.