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.
In this article
Listerine Smart Rinse Kids Mouthwash – Listerine makes an anti-cavity, alcohol-free, fluoride mouthwash for kids. The product has received the ADA seal of approval for helping to prevent tooth decay in children.Can a 8 year old use Listerine? ›
Kids 6-12 years old
It's always good to ask your dentist first, but usually, elementary-aged children can use mouthwash IF they have mastered the skill of swishing and spitting out ALL the mouthwash.
Pediatric Mouthwash Claims vs. Reality
While the fluoride in these rinsings can certainly help fight cavities, the concentration is less than the average toothpaste. In a pinch—if you're out and don't have a toothbrush handy—a rinse with pediatric mouthwash can be a good thing, however.
- hello Naturally Healthy Anti-Gingivitis Mouthwash.
- Tom's of Maine Wicked Fresh Mouthwash.
- Tom's of Maine Whole Care Anticavity Mouthwash.
- hello Kids Wild Strawberry Anticavity Mouthwash.
- hello Naturally Fresh Antiseptic Mouthwash.
- hello Fresh Spearmint Moisturizing Mouthwash.
The most common causes of halitosis in kids are poor oral hygiene, cavities and gingivitis. Bad breath can also be due to smelly foods, mouth breathing, loose dental restorations, dry mouth, infections in the mouth, ears, nose or throat, and certain health conditions and medications.What age can kids use Colgate mouthwash? ›
Indications : For adults and children 6 years and older. Use twice daily after brushing with toothpaste. Vigorously swish 10 mL of rinse around and between teeth for 1 minute and spit out.Is there Listerine for kids? ›
Help protect and strengthen teeth with LISTERINE® SMART RINSE® anticavity fluoride mouthwash for children. This alcohol-free oral rinse with a kid-friendly Mint Shield flavor helps prevent cavities and kills bad breath germs.Why can't kids use Listerine? ›
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), children under six should not use mouthwash. That means babies and toddlers should not use mouthwash, either, as children under six may not have fully developed their swallowing reflexes and could swallow the mouthwash.Should kids use mouthwash before or after brushing? ›
The Mayo Clinic recommends using mouthwash after brushing and flossing your teeth.Can kids use smart mouth mouthwash? ›
SmartMouth Kids formulated to eliminate and prevent bad breath for 24 hours with just 2 rinses a day and features a kid-friendly grape flavor to encourage good hygiene among children.
|Product||Forbes Health Ratings||Best For|
|ACT Alcohol Free Anticavity Fluoride Rinse||5.0||Best for Cavity Prevention|
|ACT Dry Mouth Mouthwash||4.9||Best for Dry Mouth|
|Crest Scope All Day Mouthwash, Alcohol Free||4.6||Best for Protection Against Plaque|
|CloSYS Silver Fluoride Mouthwash||4.5||Best for Older Adults|
Alcohol-based mouthwashes (read: the vast majority of them) have a habit of drying out the tissue in your mouth. As alcohol evaporates, it takes saliva and other moisture with it, worsening cases of dry mouth. Not to mention, mouthwash stings, meaning it can aggravate ulcers and sores.Is alcohol free mouthwash better than regular mouthwash? ›
Which mouthwash is safer for your teeth? Alcohol-free mouthwash is considered to be safer for your teeth because you do not have to worry about your enamel being weakened by the alcohol in your mouthwash or your gums burning while you rinse.Do dentists recommend using mouthwash daily? ›
Used in moderation, it can help improve oral health without causing any harm. It is generally not recommended by dentists to use mouthwash every day or even at all for the matter. Most dentists will recommend that you brush your teeth and floss on a daily basis but not many will tell you that you need to use mouthwash.Which brand of mouthwash kills the most bacteria? ›
In fact, while brushing leaves bacteria behind, LISTERINE ZERO® is the alcohol-free mouthwash proven to kill 99.9% of bad breath germs1—making it an essential step in your patients' daily oral care regimen. The proof behind the germ-killing power.Which mouthwash is most effective against bacteria? ›
It is a broad spectrum antimicrobial with particular use against bacteria that cause gum disease. Dentists do sometimes employ chlorhexidine mouthwash to treat patients with gum disease. Studies have shown it can reduce inflammation caused by periodontal bacteria.
We took the Top 10 most popular mouthwashes and ranked them to make it simpler on you: ACT, Biotene, CariFree (CTx3 & CTx4), Crest Pro-Health, Hydrogen Peroxides (HPM or Peroxyl), Listerine, Peridex, Scope, Therabreath, and Tom's of Maine.