Now that you know the benefits and risks of mouthwash, here are some tips on adding it to your child’s oral care routine.
Choose an alcohol-free product: Before your child starts using mouthwash, be discerning with what type you buy. Some types of adult mouthwashes contain alcohol, which kills the invasive bacteria that can fester inside the mouth and along the gumline. This additive 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.
Hold on to the mouthwash yourself: You should always store mouthwash out of the 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.
Make sure to supervise: For children between the ages of 6 and 12, supervision and education are essential—not only to ensure they’re not swallowing it but also to make sure they’re using it correctly. It can be tricky for young kids to get used to swishing the liquid rather than swallowing it like a beverage. One way to test your child and see if they are ready to use a mouthwash is to have them take a sip of water, swish it around their mouth and then spit it out into the sink. If kids can handle rinsing with water, they can most likely handle mouthwash.
Try a timer game: If you’re looking to add some fun to this new practice, try making a game out of using it by setting a stopwatch, timing them for about a minute, then yelling "spit!" or "go!" when it's time to spit it out. Supervising your child in the early stages of using a mouthwash will let you make sure that they are brushing and flossing before using the rinse.
If you’re unsure whether your child should use a mouthwash, talk to their dental professional. They might decide that mouthwash will indeed benefit your kid's teeth or determine that your child’s teeth are healthy and strong without it. If you decide to let your child use mouthwash, choosing a product made for kids will help get them excited about another step in their oral care routine and help them form healthy, lasting habits.