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Mouthwash is helpful for strengthening enamel, fighting tooth decay, and preventing bad breath - but when is the right time for your child to start using it? While mouthwash has a lot of benefits, it does have its risks. Parents should be cautious.

The Safe Age for a Child to Use Mouthwash

It is not recommended for children under six years old to use mouthwash. Children under the age of six should not rinse with mouthwash because they have not completely developed the motor functions to properly rinse their mouth and spit.

More importantly, younger children are more likely to swallow mouthwash, which is a health risk. Children under six are also more at risk for fluorosis, a condition that discolors the teeth due to exposure to an excessive amount of fluoride - a key ingredient in most mouthwashes.

For children six through twelve years of age, they should be closely supervised when using mouthwash. Parents should be helping and watching while their child uses mouthwash to ensure they are rinsing properly and spitting it all out.

Best Practices for Children Using Mouthwash

Once your child reaches six years old and you believe they are ready to rinse with mouthwash, Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry suggests using these best practices:

  • Explain rinsing with mouthwash will be an addition to their oral hygiene. It is not a replacement for brushing and flossing, but an extra step to keep their smile clean and healthy.
  • Keep mouthwash out of reach of children. Once a child starts to use a mouth rinse, they may like the taste or just be curious what happens if they were to swallow it. Keep the mouthwash in high up or locked in a cabinet.
  • Practice rinsing and spitting with water. To ensure your child knows how to properly rinse, as well as spit out the mouthwash, have them rinse with water first. Doing this a few times will help them know what to do when they use actual mouthwash for the first time.

Don’t forget to make it fun! Children respond better to these daily tasks when they have fun doing it. Try timing them to see if they’re able to rinse for 30 seconds or a full minute.

If you have more questions about dental hygiene for your children, contact Charlotte Pediatric Dentistry.

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