Combining mouthwash use with regular brushing and flossing is a great way to prevent gum disease and gingivitis, but only if your child can use it safely. If you are thinking of adding mouthwash to your child’s daily oral hygiene routine, read on to discover when a child can safely use mouthwash some tips to encourage safe mouthwash use.
Don’t Allow Your Child to Use Mouthwash Before This Age
Parents shouldn’t even consider allowing their child to use any type of mouthwash until their child turns six or seven.
The reason why children under the age of six should avoid using any type of mouthwash is because they cannot do so safely. They do not have the muscle strength or ability to hold the mouthwash in their mouth, swish it around, and then spit it out.
If you were to give a child mouthwash before they turned six or seven, they would more than likely swallow it. While nothing bad will happen to your child if they swallow a tiny amount, constantly swallowing large amounts of mouthwash can cause a number of health problems and even result in increased levels of fluoride.
The other reason why dentists recommend parents wait until a child’s seventh birthday to use mouthwash is because of the fluoride content. Most children get enough fluoride from their diet, drinking water, and dentists. The fluoride found in most mouthwashes might be excessive for your little one. To avoid dental problems which are caused by overexposure to fluoride, it is best to not incorporate mouthwash into their daily oral hygiene routine till after seven.
Safe Ways to Help Prevent Gingivitis and Gum Disease in Children
Even though you shouldn’t use mouthwash until your child turns seven, it doesn’t mean you can’t proactively prevent your child from developing gingivitis and gum disease. There are several things you can do to ensure your child doesn’t develop gum disease and gingivitis.
Some things you can do include:
- Schedule regular visits to a pediatric dentist for a routine examination and professional cleaning
- Encourage your child to brush two times a day and floss once a day
- Make sure your child drinks plenty of water as this will increase saliva production and even wash away food particles and bacteria in the mouth
- Encourage your child to snack on fresh fruit like grapes and cucumbers, as these keep the mouth clean and increase saliva production
Safety Tips for When Your Child Starts Using Mouthwash
Once your child is ready to start using mouthwash, it is important that you teach them how to safely use it.
The following are safety tips every parent should know about using mouthwash:
- Use an alcohol-free mouthwash – alcohol-based mouthwashes are great for adults, but they contain ingredients that are too harsh for both younger and older children
- Keep any mouthwash out of reach of children – a high shelf or in a lockbox is best
- Encourage your child to only use mouthwash when you are present
- Remind your child that mouthwash is to be used along with brushing and flossing, and is not meant to replace it
- Practice rinsing with a cup of water for several days or weeks before actually using mouthwash. This will help you make sure you know that your child can properly swish and spit the mouthwash out without swallowing.
- Remind children to always spit out mouthwash after every use
Have additional questions about how your child can safely use mouthwash? Feel free to call the Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida and ask any questions you may have. You can also schedule an appointment for a routine examination for your child and ask our pediatric dentist any questions at that time.