One of the questions I get on a regular basis is about mouthwash. Should I use mouthwash with my child? What ages is it appropriate? Do mouthwashes help prevent cavities? What kind of mouthwashes should I use? Here’s a breakdown of what I think is important to know.
Age matters! Please don’t use it on children younger than 6 years old unless specifically recommended by their dentist.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD), the American Dental Association (ADA), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) all recommend not using mouthwash before the age of 6. Children younger than 6 years of age do not yet have full control of their swallowing reflexes, so while they may spit out some of the mouthwash, the odds of them ingesting are high as well and can lead to nausea, vomiting, and intoxication. They can also get higher levels of fluoride than is recommended, which can lead to fluorosis in their permanent teeth. A lot of mouthwashes also contain ethanol, and there have been reports of ethanol toxicity from young children drinking mouthwash.
If your child has cavities or is at high risk for them, I may recommend a rinse before the age of 6 if they are able to rinse and spit correctly. After the age of 6, I only recommend mouthwashes to address specific oral health issues with your child.
· Cavities and tooth decay – Fluoride mouthwashes like ACT and others with sodium fluoride levels of 0.05%.
· Bad breath – Cetylpyridinium chloride mouthwashes like Crest ProHealth or Scope.
· Control plaque and gingivitis – Essential oil mouthwashes like Listerine contain eucalyptol, menthol, thymol, and/or methyl salicylate. Make sure it is alcohol free.
Mouthrinses with the ADA Seal of Acceptance:
Mouthwash does not replace brushing and flossing but may have some added benefits. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to call me at (512) 646-4500.