We've all received sample oral rinses to place into kids' goody bags, right? And with the recent rush of back-to-school dental hygiene visits, it makes sense to prepare goody bags ahead of patients' visits in an effort to stay on schedule.
It wasn’t until I started doing research for this blog that I discovered how little we discuss or recommend oral rinses for children. Let's go even further with that thought and ask ourselves, "When was the last time any of us who work with children in dentistry didn't just throw a sample rinse in a goody bag without fully knowing the ingredients?"
Here is what we know: We recommend oral rinses for children based on age, current state of oral health, and ingredients, as some parents prefer fluoride-free products.
Children under 6 years of age are not recommended to use oral rinses because their ability to swish and not swallow has not been developed yet. Parents may begin to introduce how to swish and spit as they observe their children brushing. From my experience, that ranges from ages 4 to 6.
Always ask your patients' parents what oral rinse is in their home. If the oral rinse is alcohol-based, it may be best to encourage parents to invest in an alcohol-free oral rinse. If children swallow an oral rinse that has either alcohol or fluoride ingredients, that can have hazardous effects on their health. Next, share with your patients' parents how to show their children how to properly rinse: swishing for 30 seconds and refraining from eating or drinking for 30 minutes afterwards.
Current State of Oral Health
Establishing whether a child is at a low-, moderate-, or high-risk caries and state of gingival health before, during, or after orthodontics can direct you to which products that would benefit your patients with the best results. This includes either an over-the-counter (OTC) oral rinse or professionally dispensed.
Here are some products you can recommend based on a patient's current state of oral health:
Moderate- to High-Risk Caries Oral Rinses
Low- to Moderate-Risk Caries Oral Rinses
Fluoride-Free Oral Rinses
Over-the-Counter Oral Rinses
Professionally Dispensed In-Office Oral Rinses
Sodium fluoride, fluoride, gluten-free, and xylitol are the first 4 key ingredients to inform parents about. Keep a definition of additional ingredients with you so you can refer to it swiftly, as certain ones can cause staining, offer little benefit to children's oral health, while others are used as food preservatives. Review the potential side effects of each ingredient (1) if ingested (2) to oral environment with parents.
When you remain aware of what is in oral rinses for children, you can help parents make informed decisions while starting a new healthy habit for that child's smile!
Image via howstuffworks.com
Anastasia challenges dental professionals to continually raise the standard of patient care. She is an author in several dental industry publications and is published as an oral health source for numerous online consumer-based sites. Her weekly video blog on YouTube; Anastasia's Hump Day Happenings answers questions from the general public on oral health topics. She connects with dental professionals on her Facebook page as well. Anastasia is a spokesperson, independent consultant, working with several companies to develop website content, social media presence, continuing education programs and in-office training for dental hygiene departments on product integration with team communication.