Wish-Wash: Mouthwash for Kids
We all appreciate having a delightful conversation with someone who has fresh minty breath. After all, no one wants to get a whiff of what was on the lunch menu or take a step back from the conversation for a breath of fresh air. Mouthwash is a wonderful product for oral hygiene that can give us confidence in everything we say… really! But when you walk through the store to pick up a new toothbrush and tube of toothpaste for your family, have you noticed the colorful bottles and great looking flavors of mouthwash that glisten with all the shiny packaging? Perhaps you use mouthwash yourself, so what about your child? Its difficult not to notice how fun the children’s oral care products look, but is mouthwash a necessity? Read on to learn about mouthwash and the importance it can have in your child’s oral health.
Benefits Of Mouthwash
Mouthwash helps remove plaque from teeth, kill bacteria, and protect the gums against gingivitis. Some rinses also contain fluoride for strengthening tooth enamel, which helps protect against cavities and tooth decay. The most notable benefit of mouthwash is that it makes your breath smell fresh by removing odor-causing bacteria and masking other bad smells. While mouthwash may give your child’s mouth an extra clean touch, dentists say it is no substitute for regular, thorough brushing and flossing.
When Children Can Use It
Unlike flossing, which should begin as soon as two teeth surface side-by-side, mouthwash can be the last oral care product you add to your child’s regimen. According to the American Dental Association, children under the age of 6 should not use mouthwash because they usually cannot keep from swallowing it. Swallowing mouthwash poses health hazards to young children, especially if they swallow an adult mouthwash containing alcohol or a fluoridated mouthwash, which can give them more than the recommended amount of fluoride and a belly ache. For children over 6, it is OK to start teaching them to use mouthwash, under adult supervision. Make sure to use only rinses designed for children, since they don’t contain alcohol and are less harmful if your child accidentally swallows some of it. Every child is different and may not be ready for mouthwash until later. A good way to test their ability is to fill a small cup with some water, have them rinse, then spit back into the cup. If they are able to spit all the water back into the cup, they are ready for mouthwash! When you chose to introduce your child to mouthwash, discuss it at their next dental visit and start with a dentist recommended mouthwash.
Choosing a Mouthwash
As you have probably discovered, the store shelves carry quite a variety of colorful kids mouthwash in different brands. You may find choosing one to be just as difficult as getting your child to actually brush and floss their teeth! Keep in mind that you may need to try a few to find the one your child will like and it is important to pick a mouthwash that suits your child’s needs. Some kid’s mouthwashes are designed to combat bad breath while others prevent the buildup of plaque. Still, some will both combat bad breath and kill bacteria. Before considering a fluoridated mouthwash, determine how much fluoride your child is receiving in their toothpaste, dental treatments, food, and water supply. Too much fluoride can be harmful, but if needed and/or recommended by your dentist, it can help to protect your child’s tooth enamel. It is best to avoid all mouthwash containing any alcohol since it can be a health hazard if swallowed and it is likely that children may swallow some. Kids mouthwashes are specially designed for the possibility of swallowing and are your safest, recommended choice. They come in may fun flavors such as bubble gum and cherry that kids love and creates a more enjoyable experience for them. Talk to your dentist about recommendations for what your child should use.
As parents, we do these things to protect and care for our own teeth because we hope to keep them around for a long time, and maintain a beautiful smile! But if your child’s teeth will eventually fall out, no matter how well they’re protected, do we have to go to such great lengths to care for them? The simple answer is yes; a child’s teeth and gums are just as vulnerable to decay and disease as your own teeth. Brushing and flossing are of the most vital oral hygiene practices, and mouthwash can be beneficial too! The choice is yours whether or not you decide to incorporate mouthwash into your child’s tooth care regimen. Until then, happy brushing!
Children’s Safety: Swimming
There is perhaps no better summertime activity than going swimming. Whether you frequent a community pool or hit the beach instead, there’s nothing more refreshing than a dip in cool water on a hot day. While a day at the pool is a relaxing activity for most, when you have little ones, being around water can be nerve wracking. Here are some statistics to illustrate the importance of careful poolside practices along with some tips to help you develop safe water habits with your little ones.
Children under the age of 14 are at risk for unintentional drowning. On average, within the United States alone, ten people die from drowning accidents every day. About 1 in 5 of those are children under the age of 14. Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest rate of drowning and, more often than not, these accidents happen in home pools. The greatest factors contributing to these numbers are:
- a child not knowing how to swim
- a home pool being unfenced
- a lack of supervision
- failure to wear an appropriate life jacket or floating device
- alcohol use among supervising adults
Here are some of the most basic and effective ways to ensure that you and your family stay safe whether at the pool or the beach this summer:
Get them into Swim Lessons:
Teaching your child to be comfortable in water is the first step. You’ll need to assess when each child is ready, but getting them in lessons as early as possible is advised. Make sure they know how to tread water and float before allowing them in the water by themselves. Keep them in the shallow end of the pool or in any designated kid’s zones. Make sure that they know not to go in the water unless an adult is present. Or, if they’re a bit older and you feel confident in their abilities, teach them to use the buddy system and always have someone with them while swimming. While it’s important for them to recognize that precautions should be taken, they should also know that water is not something to be afraid of.
If your child has been primarily in pools and is going to a lake or to the ocean for the first time, help educate them on the differences of swimming out in the open. Teach them about currents, undertow, uneven surfaces, etc. to make sure they’re prepared for the differences.
There is nothing more important than making sure your full attention is on your children at all times when they are near or in water. If your children are still infants or toddlers, you shouldn’t be more than an arm’s length away from them. Be sure that you remove any distractions while you’re monitoring children in water so that you can jump in and help immediately if necessary.
Pool parties, while fun, can be some of the most dangerous environments for little swimmers if they are not handled properly. If there are numerous adults around, it’s important to always have at least one adult designated to watching at all times. Don’t make the faulty assumption that someone else is watching your children. Set up a rotation system so that one parent doesn’t get too worn out. This will keep everyone’s eyes fresh and still make sure that the kids always have an active watcher.
Teach About the Dangers of Pools:
While pools may seem harmless enough, it’s important to remember that things such as water jets, drains, and filtration systems can pose a threat to hair and little fingers and toes. Teach your kids to stay away from drains or outlets that may have suction. Anything that could prevent them from being able to come up for air should be avoided. Children’s wading pools or smaller pools with only a singular drain pose the greatest threat for hazardous suction. If you’re installing a hot tub or pool, make sure that the draining systems are compliant with the Pool and Spa Safety Act.
Should an accident occur, nothing is more valuable than proper CPR knowledge. Mere minutes can make a huge difference if a child has swallowed water. Local hospitals, fire departments, or community colleges offer CPR classes regularly. Make it a family outing and have the kids learn CPR as well. It is an invaluable tool that could save a life!
If you have a Home Pool:
If you already have a pool in your backyard, make sure that every safety precaution possible is in place. A pool fence should be at least 4 feet high and should have a secure, self-latching gate. This will keep you from having to remember to latch it every time you leave the pool area. If all you have is an inflatable pool, make sure you empty out all water after you’re done using it. Store the pool upside down to ensure there is no water left inside. Whether you have an in ground pool or merely an inflatable one, consider installing an alarm or attaching a bell to all outside doors to monitor children’s whereabouts .
Being aware of the dangers that pools and bodies of water can pose is the first step to achieving safe water practices. Take every precaution to ensure that water-focused playtime can remain carefree. Remember that educating yourself and your children is the most important decision you can make when it comes to maintaining your child’s safety. Put these suggestions into practice to give yourself some peace of mind this summer. Happy swimming!