Do you recommend
mouthwash for my child?

No. I don’t recommend mouthwash for the typical kid. Most kids aren’t very good at spitting (yours might be) and the risk of swallowing mouthwash is too high for nearly all kids under the age of six. Even a child who is older (or good at spitting) often will substitute mouthwash in place of good brushing and flossing. That is not a good idea. 

Can I add mouthwash to my child's brushing routine?

I have found that “adding” mouthwash to the oral hygiene routine of brushing and flossing, usually means that the kids brush and floss even faster (or skip them all together) to make time for the mouthwash routine. That’s because using mouthwash to rinse is generally more convenient and faster than good old brushing with toothpaste and flossing. So the child feels they have addressed their oral hygiene requirement. When in fact, it’s a far cry from proper plaque removal by flossing and brushing.

Even though mouthwash for kids does sound appealing, there are important factors to consider before including it to your child’s oral hygiene routine. 

Is mouthwash recommended for teenagers?

Teenagers can use mouthwash, as it can be a great asset. As a child gets older they become more self-aware and self-conscious about bad breath. And using mouthwash can be a helpful addition to their oral hygiene routine. It can be recommended as well when children get into braces or other dental or orthodontic appliances. Mouthwash can help fight bacteria and protect the surfaces and areas of the mouth that are tricky to get to with floss or a toothbrush.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when deciding to allow your older child to use mouthwash

  • Mouthwash should never replace your child’s routine flossing and brushing with toothpaste.
  • Mouthwash should be used as an add-on, never a substitute. 
  • Ask your pediatric dentist for any recommendations for child-friendly mouthwash
  • Older children or teenagers with braces can add mouthwash to their brushing and flossing routine.
  • If they don’t have time at school after lunch it can be used to remove the food particles from their teeth.

In short, mouthwash is not recommended for children under the age of 6 years old. A child needs to establish their skills and routines in brushing, flossing,  and spitting toothpaste. Those skills are essential, before adding mouthwash to your child's oral hygiene routine. If you are going to add mouthwash to your child's brushing routine, ask your pediatric dentist what type of mouthwash to use.

Here's the ADA recommendation regarding the use of mouthwash for children.

If you have any other questions or concerns about using mouthwash for kids or if you need any recommendations, please feel free to contact us at Scripps Pediatric Dentistry. 

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J. Shahangian


Dr. J is a board certified pediatric dentist and owner of Scripps Pediatric Dentistry & Brush n Brace, pediatric dental offices located in San Diego, CA. He is not only a Diplomat with the board but now also has Fellow status with the AAPD. He is a proud father of 3 beautiful girls, a San Diego native, loves soccer and is passionate about pediatric oral health. His mission is battling the number 1 disease that he has seen take over our beloved children. #AskDrJ provides answers and solutions to parents questions & concerns regarding their children's oral health. Click here for a full list of articles from #AskDrJ 

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