Adding mouthwash to a child's daily dental hygiene regimen can help promote good dental health, prevent cavities and plaque buildup, and combat bad breath. Many types of mouthwash, however, have harsh or intense flavors, and some even contain ingredients that could be harmful if swallowed. As such, one must use care when attempting to choose the best kids' mouthwash, as failure to do so could lead to discomfort or illness. Factors to consider include the overall purpose of the mouthwash, desired fluoride content, and alcohol content — many forms of mouthwash are actually marketed as kids' mouthwash and take these factors into consideration. It also is important to note that, though kids' mouthwash can be helpful and generally is safe, consulting one's dentist before choosing may be a good decision.
First of all, it is important to pick a mouthwash that fits the needs of the child who will use it. Some forms of kids' mouthwash are made only to combat bad breath and do little or nothing to kill bacteria or to prevent the buildup of dental plaque. Others serve both as breath fresheners and antiseptics, and contain substances that kill the bacteria responsible for dental plaque, gingivitis, and other dental conditions. Still others have high levels of fluoride, which can help to combat tooth decay. Some considerations in this area include the fact that kids' mouthwash that is only intended to fight bad breath likely won't be effective in fighting plaque or tooth decay, and fluoride mouthwash can be harmful to those who already get sufficient fluoride though their drinking water or toothpaste.
There are many health concerns associated with mouthwash, particularly with its improper use. Many types of mouthwash contain high levels of alcohol, which can be harmful if ingested, particularly by children. Furthermore, fluoride mouthwash can cause serious illness if a significant quantity of it is swallowed. When choosing the best kids' mouthwash, then, it is important to keep these concerns in mind. It may also be beneficial to supervise a child's use of such mouthwash in order to prevent improper use.
Any substantial change in one's dental hygiene practices can, of course, have unexpected side effects. It may be best to consult a dentist before allowing a child to start using kids' mouthwash. In some cases, it is simply unnecessary, while in others it can actually be harmful. Choosing the right type of kids' mouthwash is absolutely essential, and a dentist may have valuable input to offer about the various available options.