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Fluoride rinses are safe for children if used as directed. These prescription rinses can be very helpful in reducing cavities and tooth decay. However, always ask your dentist or doctor if a fluoride rinse is right for your child. If large amounts are swallowed, the fluoride can be harmful. So, monitor your youngster while using a fluoride rinse. After the age of 13, it may no longer be needed.
Children under age 6 should not use a fluoride rinse unless they’re at high risk of decay and their dentist recommends they do so. Older children may use a fluoride rinse, so long as you make sure they spit it out rather than swallowing it. Over time, swallowing a fluoride rinse could lead to the development of fluorosis, a condition that results in white spots and even pits and brown stains on permanent teeth. Dental fluorosis is a risk only for children under age 8 whose permanent teeth are still forming. Older children and adults who swallow a fluoride rinse may experience nausea.
Teaching your child to swish as well as brush can help prevent cavities -- in fact, it might help set your child up for a cavity-free lifetime. Check with your child's dentist to see if your son or daughter is ready to start rinsing and whether there's a particular product the dentist recommends. By the time they are age six or so, most children can learn to use a fluoride mouth rinse correctly -- by swishing and then spitting, rather than swallowing.
Look for a fluoride mouth rinse that says it is safe for children, and check to see that the bottle has the "ADA Accepted" seal on it, which means the American Dental Association has found that the rinse can help prevent and reduce tooth decay when it is used according to directions.
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.