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!