Should My Child Use an Oral Rinse after Brushing?

As an Overland Park pediatric dentist, we hear lots of questions from parents on all aspects of oral care for their children. Here on the official Dr. Cobb blog, we’ve spoken at length about toothpastes and toothbrushes and floss, but we’ve never really covered the topic of oral rinses. So, maybe this is the time to say what we know about the subject.

The American Dental Association states that bacteria-fighting oral rinses can reduce bacteria and help prevent gum disease. And, although this is probably true, we tend to believe that good brushing and flossing habits – combined with a healthy diet and a limited amount of sugary snacks and beverages – will serve almost all of your oral health needs without having to rely on additional over-the-counter aids such as oral rinses. And, by the way, this goes for children and adults as well. Obviously, the best way to round out a good brushing, flossing, and eating routine at home is to make sure that your children are seeing their friendly neighborhood Overland Park pediatric dentist twice a year for cleanings and oral check-ups. That stated, we go back to the topic of oral rinses and children.

If you’re thinking about using an oral rinse at home, your child should be using a very small amount of oral rinse (about 10ml or two teaspoons). It’s also important to keep in mind that some are formulated specifically for children (usually with less alcohol and fluoride content than oral rinses for adults). You can tell oral rinses for children apart from the adult oral rinses by the cartoon-ish graphics and the funky product colors. But, there’s something that parents need to consider before buying an oral rinse for their child. Fluoride exposure for children whose teeth are not fully developed can result in a discoloration or mottling of the tooth enamel. It’s a condition called fluorosis, and it can leave teeth looking less than pearly white. So, any oral rise with added fluoride is a risk.

In addition, parents should understand that children under the age of 5 or 6 often have trouble spitting out toothpaste and oral rinses, so it’s a good idea to avoid oral rinses for children until they learn to spit these solutions out of their mouths. Oral rinses, like toothpaste, are not meant to be swallowed. The packaging for most oral rinses designed for children state “for children 6 years of age and older.” Some even go so far as to state that “children between the age of 6 and 12 years old should only use an oral rinse under adult supervision.” These warnings, along with what we know about the impact of fluoride in children is often enough to sway parents from buying oral rinses for their kids. As stated earlier, great oral health in your children can be easily achieved by brushing 2-3 times a day, flossing once a day, and reducing (or eliminating) the sugary treats and soda drinks.

This article is brought to you by Dr. Cobb, an Overland Park pediatric dentist. Dr. Cobb is a provider of comprehensive, high-quality pediatric dental care for children. If you wish to make an appointment for a dental cleaning or evaluation, feel free to contact the office of Dr. David J. Cobb.

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