The Importance of Mouthwash for Kids
Mouthwash is usually associated with adult dental care, but mouthwash can be a great addition to your child’s oral hygiene routine. You might want to add mouthwash to your child’s brushing and flossing routine for several reasons.
Some benefits of mouthwash for kids include:
- Freshens bad breath
- Strengthens teeth and fights cavities
- Promotes healthy gums and prevents gingivitis
- Washes away food particles from areas that are hard for a child to clean
Mouthwash can be especially beneficial for kids who wear braces or other dental appliances. Swishing with mouthwash prevents bacteria and plaque buildup. And this reduces the risk of tooth decay.
What is the Best Age for Kids to Start Using Mouthwash?
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), children should be at least 6 years old before using mouthwash.1 If your dentist recommends mouthwash for your child before age 6, the ADA recommends following the dentist’s advice.
Kids under 6 may still need to fully develop swallowing reflexes. This can cause them to accidentally swallow mouthwash. If kids drink mouthwash in large amounts, it can lead to nausea and vomiting.
Our Top Recommendations for Kids' Mouthwash
- Best Overall (Editor's Pick) — Act Kids Anticavity Fluoride Rinse
- Best Antiplaque—Listerine Smart Rinse
- Best Dye-Free — Tom's of Maine Children's Anticavity Fluoride Rinse
- Best Budget-Friendly— Amazon Basics Kids Anticavity Fluoride Rinse
- Best Fluoride-Free — Hello Kids Fluoride-Free RInse
- Best Organically-Flavored — Therabreath for Kids Dentist Formulated Anti-Cavity Oral
- Best Herbal Formula — Spry Kids Mouthwash
- Best Kid-Friendly — Firefly Anticavity Fluoride Rinse
8 Best Mouthwash for Kids
Not every mouthwash is suitable for children. To keep your kids safe and healthy, we researched the ingredients in children’s mouthwashes and listed the best options.
While many adult mouthwashes contain alcohol, all the kids’ mouthwashes on our list are alcohol-free.
Many of our options are also free of several other ingredients, including artificial dyes, fluoride, and artificial sweeteners.
1. Best Overall — ACT Kids Anticavity Fluoride Rinse
With more than 30,000 Amazon reviews, ACT Kids mouthwash is a fan favorite. We named it best overall because the dosing cup and once-daily formula make ACT Kids easy for parents to introduce mouthwash to their kids.
- Fun flavors include Bubblegum Blowout, Groovy Grape, Pineapple Punch, and Wild Watermelon
- Easy-squeeze cup with a fill line on the bottle ensures an accurate dose
- Contains artificial dyes
- Has a higher level of fluoride than some competitors (.05%)
2. Best Antiplaque — Listerine Smart Rinse
Research shows that Listerine Smart Rinse removes more dental plaque from children’s teeth than competitors.4 Unlike the adult version of Listerine, the Smart Rinse line is formulated without alcohol. It also comes in a bubble gum flavor kids will love.
- Removes more plaque than brushing alone
- ADA-accepted for cavity prevention
- Freshens breath by killing bad bacteria
- Contains artificial colors and sweeteners
- Formulated for twice-daily use
3. Best Dye-Free — Tom’s of Maine Children’s Anticavity Fluoride Rinse
If the colors and flavors of other kids' mouthwashes worry you, Tom’s of Maine may be right for you. Tom’s specializes in natural personal care products, including this dye-free, naturally flavored children’s mouthwash.
- No artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, fragrances, or preservatives
- Kid-friendly flavor from natural fruit juices (strawberry, pineapple, orange, lemon, mango)
- No animal testing
- ADA-accepted for cavity protection
- Strengthens teeth with xylitol
- Contains fluoride (which may be a pro, depending on how you look at it)
4. Best Budget-Friendly — Amazon Basics Kids Anticavity Fluoride Rinse
If you’re looking for an economical option, Amazon Basics mouthwash for kids features similar ingredients at a fraction of the price. It even has an easy-squeeze cap for accurate dosing.
- Bubble gum flavor
- Less costly than competitors
- Easy for larger families to stock up on
- Not ADA-accepted
- Contains artificial colors and flavors
5. Best Fluoride-Free — Hello Kids Fluoride-Free Rinse
Hello is another brand specializing in natural, environmentally friendly personal care products. This fluoride-free mouthwash has a fresh watermelon flavor to replace the spicy mint taste kids tend to dislike.
- No fluoride, gluten, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), sugars, dyes, or artificial flavors or sweeteners
- Vegan and cruelty-free
- Not ADA-accepted
6. Best Organically Flavored — TheraBreath For Kids Dentist-Formulated Anticavity Oral Rinse
If you want a kids’ mouthwash that fights cavities and bad breath without artificial ingredients, this one’s for you. TheraBreath for Kids is flavored with organic grapes. It’s also naturally sweetened with xylitol.
- Certified vegan, kosher, and gluten-free
- No artificial colors or flavors
- Made in the US
- Not ADA-accepted
7. Best Herbal Formula — Spry Kids Mouthwash
Spry Kids Mouthwash gets its fun color from natural plant dyes, not artificial ingredients. It’s made with soothing plants, including echinacea, chamomile, and aloe vera.
Herbal mouthwashes are safer to use than other mouthwash options.5 Spry will give you peace of mind knowing your kids are safe if they forget to spit it out.
- Sweetened with xylitol
- Added calcium to strengthen enamel
- Paraben-free and pH-balanced
- Not ADA-accepted
8. Best Kid-Friendly — Firefly Anticavity Fluoride Rinse
If your kids need a little extra motivation to brush and floss, the fun packaging on this mouthwash might do the trick. Firefly mouthwash makes dental hygiene fun for your kids.
- Easy-to-dispense pump comes in Toy Story or My Little Pony bottles
- ADA-accepted formula helps prevent cavities
- Reusable cup included
- Contains artificial ingredients
- More expensive than other options
Why Trust Our Review?
We specialize in sharing researched, informative articles about dentistry, including transparent reviews you can trust. We know that, as parents, there are many things you’d rather spend your time on than researching your kid’s mouthwash.
To create this review, we checked the ingredients in every product and referred to peer-reviewed scientific articles. We also read through user reviews (good and bad) and investigated each brand.
Tips to Help Kids Use Mouthwash Safely
When properly used, mouthwash strengthens your kid’s teeth and protects them from cavities. Your child should brush their teeth and floss before using mouthwash.
Here’s how to use it safely:
- Store mouthwash where your child can’t reach — this deters them from drinking it.
- Supervise kids younger than 12 — this ensures they’re spitting the mouthwash into the sink and not swallowing it.
- Read and follow the directions on the bottle — some formulas are for once-daily use, while others are safe to use twice daily.
- Use the recommended amount — if the mouthwash bottle doesn’t have a dosing cup, use only a small amount.
Mouthwash is a great way to add cavity protection to children’s brushing and flossing routines. However, mouthwash made for adults may not be suitable for children.
In addition to being alcohol-free, many mouthwashes we recommend are free from artificial ingredients that may be harmful if swallowed.
Even if your child uses a mouthwash formulated for kids, it’s important to supervise them until they can swish and spit on their own. Always read the directions on the mouthwash bottle and talk to your dentist about any concerns.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why Are All Kids’ Mouthwashes Alcohol-Free?
Not only is alcohol harmful to kids if swallowed, but it’s also dehydrating.
Alcohol in mouthwash can contribute to your kid’s bad breath. This is because it dries out the saliva in their mouth, which is essential for fighting odor-causing bacteria.
When Should Kids Start Using Mouthwash with Fluoride?
It’s safe for children 6 and older to use fluoride mouthwash.2
Fluoride is a mineral that helps to strengthen the enamel on baby teeth. This makes them more resistant to cavities.
Is Fluoride Safe for Kids?
Yes, fluoride is safe in small doses. The ADA recommends you start brushing your child’s teeth with a small amount of fluoride toothpaste at age 3.2
However, kids who get too much fluoride may develop dental fluorosis (discolored teeth). Additionally, some people are allergic to fluoride or prefer not to use it. That’s why our list includes fluoride-free options.
How Often Should Kids Use Mouthwash?
It depends on the specific type of mouthwash you’re using. Always read the directions on the back label before giving mouthwash to your child.
Some brands contain higher levels of fluoride and should be used once a day. Others can be used in the morning and at night.
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