The 7 Best Mouthwashes for Kids

Kids aren’t the world’s best tooth brushers (understatement of the year), so you might be looking for something other than a new toothpaste to protect their teeth from cavities. Mouthwash offers a quick and easy way to freshen breath, wash away missed food particles and strengthen teeth. The best mouthwashes for kids do all of the above while tasting great, which goes a long way in motivating little ones to use it daily. Scary Mommy contacted pediatric dentist Dr. Erin Issac to find out what to look for in children’s mouthwash – and when it’s safe for them to use it.

The experts

Dr. Erin Issac is a board-certified pediatric dentist at Winning Smiles in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She received a Bachelor of Science in Neurobiology and Physiology from the University of Maryland, College Park, and then received her Doctor of Dental Medicine in Dentistry from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Dr. Issac earned a certificate in pediatric dentistry from UPMC’s Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. She is a member of the American Dental Association.

When can children start using mouthwash?

The American Dental Association (ADA) does not recommend a mouthwash for children under age 6 due to the risk of accidental ingestion.

Dr. Issac recommends making sure your child can “spit it all out reliably in the sink alone.” She suggests practicing with water first to see how they handle swishing and spitting and to “always supervise young children when using mouthwash to make sure they don’t swallow it.” She recommends that children use mouthwash once or twice a day as soon as they can safely spit. You can try using a timer to make it fun and help kids hit the 1 minute mark.

Dr. Issac has a genius trick for kids who would otherwise swallow mouthwash: “You can pour a little bit on the toothbrush after brushing and swipe it over the teeth instead of letting your child rinse and spit.”

Should I choose children’s mouthwashes with fluoride?

While children’s mouthwashes generally do not contain alcohol, many do contain fluoride. Taking too much fluoride can cause dental fluorosis (teeth discoloration) and problems such as an upset stomach. That said, the ADA recommends that children use fluoride in dental care products — including mouthwash — when the risk of ingestion isn’t an issue, as fluoride has been proven to help prevent tooth decay.

Dr. Isaac echoed that sentiment: “Fluoride mouthwash is great for all kids who can rinse and spit. The extra fluoride really helps to protect teeth from cavities.”

But if you have a younger child who is still prone to swallowing the “yummy” mouthwash, you probably need fluoride-free. You’ll want to look for a rinse that contains xylitol, a sugar-free sweetener with plaque removal benefits. Dr. Adds Issac, “Xylitol can be useful in mouthwash as it helps inhibit the overgrowth of bad bacteria.”

With all that in mind, it’s time to make some space next to your toothbrush holder: from unique flavors in fun bottles to brands with an easy-to-dosage cup, we’ve rounded up the best mouthwashes for kids below.

1. The Fan Favorite: An ADA-approved mouthwash with an easy-squeeze cup

Highly rated with a whopping 27,000+ reviews, this American Dental Association-accepted mouthwash prevents tooth decay and strengthens teeth while banishing morning breath. It is formulated with fluoride but no stinging alcohol. The bottle has an easy-squeeze bottle with an attached cup that helps kids (or you) accurately measure out the right amount. The pineapple flavor is sure to be a hit with your kids, but it also comes in other flavors including watermelon, bubble gum, and grape.

Helpful review: “My kids never need to be told to use this mouthwash! They love the blue color and fun colored packaging, they love the pineapple punch flavor and I love that it doesn’t make a huge mess when they have to pour with the handy squeezer. This one is hard for us to find in stores, so I love that I can have this one on [Amazon]!”

2. A 3-pack of dye-free mouthwash in a kid-approved strawberry flavor

This fluoride mouthwash strikes the perfect balance between protecting teeth and freshening breath while tasting great. Many reviewers say it’s the only mouthwash their kids like, which may be due to the natural flavor it’s made with real strawberry, lemon, orange, mango, and pineapple juices. Free from artificial colors, sweeteners, preservatives, and alcohol, this vegan mouthwash is an all-around favorite with kids and parents alike that motivates kids to swoon.

Helpful review: “Great at reducing smelly morning breath. Moreover, it has a very mild taste that my fussy toddler does not complain about :).”

3. A fluoride-free mouthwash for younger children

This xylitol-based mouthwash is perfect for younger children who are still learning proper mouthwashing techniques, as it is specially formulated to be safe if swallowed. It has added calcium to help strengthen teeth, while the neutral pH balanced rinse prevents bacteria from sticking to teeth. It is free of sugar and artificial sweeteners, alcohol and parabens. It uses herbal ingredients such as echinacea, aloe vera, marigold, thyme and chamomile to soothe irritated gums. Plus, the bubble gum flavor is sure to get the little ones excited to use it regularly.

Helpful review: “Even my SUPER picky 4 year old loves it. So proud that he can use mouthwash just like mom and dad. Also great, I don’t have to worry if my 2 year old swallows some while swishing. The only problem was the kids hated waiting for the one minute timer to buzz to let them know it’s time to spit out so now we’re doing the ‘mouthwash dance’ around the house and the whole Going on for a minute is no problem now!

4. A budget-friendly mouthwash for kids with a fill line for just the right amount

If you have several children at home, you know how quickly a bottle of mouthwash can run out. This affordable, kid-friendly fluoride rinse from Amazon Basics is perfect to stock up on. It has a filling cup on the top which is then poured into the cap to measure out the correct amount. Notably, it’s alcohol-free, and parents say their little ones — especially those who don’t like mint — love the mild “not spicy” bubblegum flavor.

Helpful review: “My daughter was happy to see this brand have the squeezable fill line dispenser. She was also happy with the taste and gave a thumbs up. Would buy again for the price and taste.”

5. A 4-pack of children’s mouthwash with a child-resistant cap

This fluoride-containing mouthwash protects against cavities, is alcohol-free, and comes in a fun Strawberry Rush flavor that appeals to kids who aren’t fans of mint or gum. Reviewers rave about what a great deal this multipack is compared to buying at the store. While it doesn’t have the squeezable dispensing cup like some other brands, it does have a child resistant cap to keep kids safe.

Helpful review: “My kids always like to try new things, and if there’s anything to keep their teeth clean, I’ll try. It’s great flavour, my kids love it and have used it every night since getting these. They couldn’t wait to try it. They said it doesn’t burn like some mint flavors and still leaves their mouths feeling fresh and clean. Great value for money and comes in a colorful fun package that your kids will love.

6. A fruity kids’ mouthwash for the Minion-obsessed

Say “poopaye” (goodbye) to kids who resist using their mouthwash and “bello” (hello) to cavity prevention that they’ll really enjoy. This fun bottle will help motivate the Minion lovers in your house! Alcohol-free, this bubbly fruity fluoride mouthwash fights bad breath, strengthens tooth enamel, prevents cavities and helps kids wash away anything they missed while brushing.

Helpful review: “This is the only mouthwash I can convince my son to use. And hey! Who am I to argue? It looks like it cleans his mouth quite a bit, and his breath definitely improves. The minions on the bottle also help.”

7. The “Unicorn” of natural mouthwash for children

The only brand to promise their product isn’t tested on unicorns, this fun bubble gum-flavored fluoride mouthwash is also vegan and made without alcohol. The ingredients are free from dyes, triclosan, artificial flavors or sweeteners and SLS. Another thing to feel good about: the bottle is made from 100% post-consumer recycled materials. Love it? Try the matching ADA-approved Unicorn Sparkle Toothpaste!

Helpful review: “My kids love this product and every other flavor from this brand. I wanted them to get a little fluoride because they don’t ingest it with their water. It smells like strawberry flavored gum and the kids love it. I’ve had no problem with them trying to swallow it and I’m glad I got it because I try to teach them good oral hygiene. I bought the matching toothpaste which they also love. All in all a great buy!”

Also nice: these unbreakable children’s bathroom cups

Need child-resistant cups for their new mouthwash routine? These are the perfect choice as they are BPA free, made from soft silicone (won’t break if dropped!) and dishwasher safe. Keep in mind that these small cups can hold 3 ounces, so you’ll need to measure out the correct amount of mouthwash.

Helpful review: “​​Large size, quality and sturdiness. Cute colors.”

Expert:

Dr. Erin Issac is a board certified pediatric dentist at Winning Smiles Pediatric Dental Care

The 7 Best Mouthwashes for Kids

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