Adults aren't the only ones who need to worry about gingivitis and cavities. In developed countries like the United States, about 73 percent of children between six and 11 years old have gum disease, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH also says 42 percent of two- to 11-year-olds have already experienced tooth decay.
An oral hygiene routine that includes gentle mouthwash can help to keep their teeth and gums healthy, but it's important that kids mouthwash is used safely.
Don't start too early
The American Dental Association (ADA) suggests children younger than six years old shouldn't use mouthwashes that contain fluoride. This is because very young children may swallow the rinse and ingest too much of this special additive. Small amounts of fluoride help to keep teeth strong and cavity-free, but large amounts can lead to enamel discoloration – also known as fluorosis.
Choose alcohol-free mouthwash
Some types of adult mouthwashes contain alcohol, which is added to kill the invasive bacteria that can fester inside the mouth and along the gumline. This is safe for adults, but not so much for children. Kids shouldn't use alcohol mouthwash because, like fluoride, swallowing small amounts of alcohol is counterproductive to a growing body. When choosing a mouthwash for your child, make sure to choose a product that doesn't contain alcohol.
Supervise children using mouthwash
Children between six and 12 years old should be supervised while using mouthwash. This is important for two reasons: First, it allows you to make sure that your child isn't swallowing the mouthwash. Second, it keeps them honest about brushing and flossing their teeth first, and not just using mouthwash as a substitute. Over time, brushing, flossing and using mouthwash will all become a routine. Ideally, once they're older, you won't need to monitor them anymore.
Hold onto it yourself
Mouthwash should always be stored out of reach of young children; because it's both brightly colored and well-flavored, they may think it's a tasty beverage. Therefore, store your mouthwash on a high shelf or in a locking cabinet until your kids are old enough to understand how to use mouthwash safely.
Children can develop oral health problems such as gum disease just like adults, so it's important to teach your own the importance of a patient oral hygiene routine. Brushing, flossing and using kids mouthwash everyday can set your child up for a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums.