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Is Mouthwash Safe for Children?

What to give to the little ones
May 29, 2019

Mouthwash or mouth rinse is an antiseptic solution which mainly used to reduce the microbial load in the oral cavity. There are other functions of mouthwash that maybe recommend for the purpose of analgesic, anti-inflammatory or anti-fungal action.

Use of mouthwash is also a helpful addition to the daily oral hygiene routine but not a replacement for brushing and flossing daily. Basically, the mouthwash offers the benefit of reaching areas not easily accessed by a toothbrush like interdental cleaners.

There are two types of mouthwash:


– The purpose of cosmetic mouthwash may temporarily control bad breath and leave behind a pleasant taste, but other than this, have no chemical or biological application beyond their temporary benefit. As an example, it is considered to be solely cosmetic if a product doesn’t kill bacteria associated with bad breath.


– Therapeutic mouthwash, on the other hand, has active ingredients intended to help control or reduce conditions like:

  • bad breath
  • gingivitis
  • plaque
  • tooth decay

Active ingredients that may be used in therapeutic mouthwash include:

  • cetylpyridinium chloride: may be added to reduce bad breath
  • chlorhexidine: can be used to help control plaque and gingivitis
  • essential oils: can be used to help control plaque and gingivitis
  • fluoride: a proven agent in helping to prevent decay
  • peroxide: present in several whitening types of mouthwash

Can be purchased over-the-counter and by prescription, depending on the formulation of the therapeutic mouthwash. For mouthwashes containing essential oils, it is readily available in stores while the prescription is needed for those containing chlorhexidine (Generic Name: Chlorhexidine gluconate).

Is Mouthwash Safe for Children?

Using mouthwash is not recommended by the American Dental Association for children younger than 6 years of age. Children may swallow large amounts of the mouthwash, which can trigger adverse events—like nausea, vomiting, and intoxication aside from swallowing reflexes may not be well developed in children these young. Once children reach the desired age, their developed reflexes tell them that they must spit mouthwash out. You may also pick a mouthwash that is sugar-free and alcohol-free and the product has an anti-cavity substance that includes sodium fluoride.

In general, using mouthwash can be a safe and effective way to help kids maintain good oral health, combined with brushing, flossing, and regular check-ups.

For kids with braces, using mouthwash can be effective and can aid against plaque on teeth. As parents and guardians, it is important to help the children in maintaining good oral health care. Always supervise and guide a child when using mouthwash to ensure they will spit it out and not swallow it in. Also, mouthwash is not a replacement nor a substitute for brushing. It is still best to brush and floss the teeth daily.

It is advisable to check the product label for specific precautions and age recommendations and ask the dentist what’s best for you and your child. Schedule an appointment with your Fleming Island dentist or call 904-269-6558.

For informational purposes only.