what Age Should You Start Using Mouthwash

As we have talked about in previous blogs, a good daily mouth care routine is necessary for your overall dental health. No matter the age Brushing your teeth at least twice daily and flossing daily is a healthy habit for most people. But recently many patients have asked us “is mouthwash necessary?”. Today’s blog goes deep into mouthwash, if it’s needed for all ages, what ages we recommend use mouthwash, and what kind of mouthwash should you use.

The Short Answer

If you don’t want to read this whole article the short answer is sort of. The American Dental Association states that “use of mouthwash (also called mouth rinse) may be a helpful addition to the daily oral hygiene routine for some people.” Today’s Woodland Family Dental blog goes into who should be using mouth wash based on age group and the mouthwash they should be using. We have broken this into three categories Young kids, kids, and adults. This blog also goes into what type of mouthwash we recommend with some recommended products at the bottom of the page. For more information on this make sure to reach out to us at (218) 724-8227

Young Kids – 1 to 6 years old 

Starting on our list are young kids ages 1 to 6 years of age. Do we recommend mouthwash? Our honest answer: probably not. If your child is younger than 6 years of age, the American Dental Association recommends not using mouthwash altogether. It’s very hard to keep young children from swallowing mouthwash, especially if it tastes good to them–which most children’s mouthwashes do. Ingesting mouthwash can cause nausea and vomiting. 

The best idea for this age is to stick to brushing and flossing. Once they get older you can add mouthwash into their dental routine. 

Older Children – 6 to 18 years old

Next on our list are children ranging from 6 to 18 years of age. Should they use mouthwash? The short answer is yes! But if they have good brushing and flossing habits, there’s really not that much need for it.

Mouthwash can be divided into two categories: cosmetic and therapeutic. We don’t recommend cosmetic mouthwashes for children at all, as they don’t serve a real purpose for oral hygiene. Therapeutic mouthwashes contain ingredients that kill bacteria, reduce plaque and gingivitis, control bad breath, and boost tooth health with the addition of fluoride.

In some cases, we may recommend an anticavity fluoride rinse for children with a history of cavities or for children wearing braces to help loosen food and plaque from brackets. But all the other reasons to use mouthwash–bad breath, plaque, gingivitis–are problems that can be tackled by good oral health practices like brushing and flossing. We’re cautious about mouthwash because some kids can get in the habit of seeing it as a substitute for brushing and flossing, or they think that they can make up for improper brushing by rinsing their mouths afterward.

How to pick out a mouthwash for your child

While you may be accustomed to using a specific kind of mouthwash, it may not be suitable for your kids. Many antiseptic types of mouthwash contain alcohol, which can be too strong for your kids to handle and could cause serious issues if they swallowed it. Alcohol-free mouthwash is the way to go. But even better than that are mouthwashes that are specifically designed for kids. These mouth rinses come in a variety of flavors that kids will love, such as bubblegum or grape. The active ingredient in the type of children’s mouthwash we recommend is sodium fluoride. Like the fluoride in toothpaste and water, it strengthens teeth to help them stand up to cavities.

You may be surprised to learn that alcohol is an ingredient in many children’s mouthwashes. The presence of alcohol in mouthwash–for adults and kids alike–is a subject of controversy in the dental world. Even setting aside the debate about whether mouthwash can increase the risk of oral cancer, it’s well-known that alcohol can cause dry mouth and dry mouth leads to bad breath. Our advice: seek out an alcohol-free fluoride rinse for kids.

Adults – 18 to 65 years old

Should adults use mouthwash? The answer is Yes! There are different kinds of mouthwash available. Some are better for people with dry mouth, sensitive teeth, mouth sores, or recent dental surgery. Our team recommends a mouthwash with fluoride and one that is an alcohol-free option (you can learn why below). 

Which mouthwashes work best for which people? Here is a list of some that you might want to consider:

  • Crest Pro-Health: a great well rounded general mouthwash that’s alcohol free.
  • ACT Advanced Care: helps control plaque build-up, great for normal use.
  • PerioBrite Nature’s Answer: an all-natural mouthwash that lacks the anti-bacterial properties of conventional products, but also doesn’t have strong chemicals that some might prefer to avoid
  • Chlorhexidine Gluconate: a prescription-only mouthwash proven to combat gingivitus, but that also has some potential side effects such as tooth staining and ulceration

No matter which kind of mouthwash you choose, look for a mouthwash that has the American Dental Association’s (ADA) seal of approval. The seal assures you that you are using a mouthwash that will combat cavities and help prevent periodontal disease

Make the switch to alcohol free mouthwash

Aside from burning sensations, the alcohol in mouthwash also destroys almost all the bacteria in your mouth – both the bad AND good bacteria. This means that unless you’re consistently using mouthwash each and every day, there are a lot of opportunities for bad breath to actually build up and an imbalance of bacteria to occur. Alcohol-free mouthwash may not completely wipe your mouth clean, but it does target more bad bacteria than good, creating a favorable balance to avoid further complications or bad breath. People who experience xerostomia (dry mouth), and otherwise low saliva flow due to certain medication side effects, radiation therapies, or systemic diseases such as Sjogren’s syndrome or diabetes, can all benefit from using alcohol-free mouthwashes. Alcohol-free mouthwash is particularly beneficial for people who have a history of alcohol abuse as well.

Additionally, studies by BioMed Research International suggest alcohol-free mouthwashes have a better effect on the gloss, color, hardness, and wear of tooth composite restorations compared to mouthwashes that contain alcohol.

There are various alcohol-free mouthwashes that can prevent dental diseases and freshen your breath. The mouthwash selection rivals toothpaste and toothbrushes in the oral care aisle, but a mouthwash should never replace brushing and flossing. Rather, mouthwashes should complement your regular dental care routine to improve your oral health. Your dental health professional can recommend options of alcohol-free mouthwashes that are most suitable for improving your own oral well-being.

Who is Woodland Family Dental?

Woodland Family Dental is one of Duluth, Minnesota’s top family dental offices. with over 50 five-star reviews on Google and Facebook, our team makes it our mission to provide the best dentistry for anyone that needs it. Our experienced team of dentists offers a wide array of dental services including general cleaningscosmetic dentistry, and dental implants. Woodland Family Dental is here to help you with your dental needs. Not to mention our great location on Miller Trunk Highway right next to the mall in Duluth, Minnesota. Woodland Family Dental cares about helping our patients and accepts almost all insurances. Set up an appointment today and see why so many families love us. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date, get more tips, and learn about what our team is up to.

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