Should Children Use Mouthwash?

Much like the tic-tac-toe, good dental habits come in three.

A Female with liquid

Proper brushing and flossing are crucial towards keeping your children’s teeth healthy and strong. But mouthwash also plays an important role. Mouthwash is effective in fighting against tooth decay, plaque, as well as gingivitis [1]. It’s especially useful for treating hard-to-reach areas of the mouth that a toothbrush or floss simply can’t.

Parents realize that even though your child’s baby teeth will be lost in a few years, they are still important and need to be taken care of. Healthy oral habits need to be established at an early age, to ensure their adult teeth are protected later on. However, you should wait until your child is older before using mouthwash. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), only children older than age 6 should use mouthwash since they are less likely of swallowing it [2].

One way to see if your child is ready for mouthwash is by using the ‘spit test’. Fill a cup with some water, have your child rinse their mouth with it, and spit it back into the cup. If they’re able to spit all the water back into the cup, it means they’re ready for mouthwash [3]. Since learning to gargle can be difficult for young children, they should always be supervised by an adult.

Benefits of Children’s mouthwash

There are numerous lifelong benefits of using mouthwash from an early age. Your teeth will be healthier and stronger and will be less prone to cavities in the long run. And though these lasting benefits are great, it’s the immediate ones that kids will notice the most.

There is an assortment of rinses available. Many of them are aimed at kids, including alcohol-free ones. Adult mouthwashes contain alcohol for a deeper clean, so children’s mouthwashes are safer in case of accidental ingestion. Some rinses will even coat the teeth in a different color where there are food debris and bacteria left behind after brushing. This shows the exact spots that children have missed, and gives them the chance to fix the problem, by getting rid of the color and food debris that’s still there. This teaches children not to hurry and to pay attention to how well they are brushing.

Many children’s mouthwash is also taste-friendly, with flavors such as berry and juicy mint. A yummy tasting mouthwash encourages them to use it on a daily basis. A good idea is to let your child choose the flavor to make it more likely of them liking it.

Just remember before teaching your kid to use mouthwash, make it clear that it doesn’t excuse them from regular brushing and flossing. By teaching your child good dental habits early on, they will understand the importance of taking care of their teeth for many years to come.


[1] Reviewsmdd. [2013, November 14]. “4 Benefits of Using Mouthwash” Retrieved from
[2] Morrow Lai & Edwards Pediatric Dentistry. [2012, October 22]. “When should Your Child Start Using Mouthwash?” Retrieved from
[3] Dentistry for Children. (n.d.). “When should My Child Start using Mouthwash?” Retrieved from

Are you making these toothbrushing mistakes?

Brushing your teeth seems like a fairly simple task right? After all, you’ve been doing it every day since you were a child. Well, turns out most people aren’t very good at brushing their teeth.

As with any habit, teeth brushing can become tedious. You can go through the motions without thinking about whether or not you’re using the proper technique. But improper brushing can lead to bigger problems, such as cavities, enamel erosion, and gum disease. So find what you’re doing wrong and learn how to correct those bad brushing habits.

Not Brushing Long Enough

This is probably the single most frequent mistake people make while brushing. Don’t rush your brushing just because you’re late for work or ready to collapse into bed. Proper brushing takes about two or three minutes, but few people ever make it to that. Try using a stopwatch or an electric toothbrush with a timer. Do whatever it takes to make sure you’re brushing long enough. All this brushing is necessary to get rid of food debris and bacteria in your mouth to keep it clean and healthy.

Brushing Too Hard

Brushing harder doesn’t make your teeth cleaner. In fact, you could be doing more harm. Aggressive brushing can erode tooth enamel and wear away gum tissue, leading to receding gums. Next time use gentle pressure, holding the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth, with the bristles pointing to your gums. This is the best way to remove plaque by brushing.

Keeping Your Toothbrush Too Long

Toothbrushes can wear down quickly, so it’s recommended you should get a new one every few months. Check your toothbrush regularly to make sure the bristles are flexible and not worn out. As toothbrush bristles flare, their ability to remove plaque decreases considerably. There are even toothbrushes that have color indicators on them, letting you know when it’s time to replace your brush.

Using the Wrong Toothbrush

Make sure you choose a toothbrush that fits your mouth. If you’re straining to open wide enough to let the toothbrush in, it’s probably too big. The handle should feel comfortable as if you’re holding a fork when you eat. The better your toothbrush fits your mouth and hand, the more likely you’ll use it correctly.

As for the bristles, they should be soft or extra soft to minimize any damage that may come from brushing too hard. Hard bristles increase surface abrasion which causes wear and damage to your teeth when brushing.

You can also try investing in an electric toothbrush. Studies show that electric toothbrushes do a better job at cleaning your teeth and remove more plaque than manual brushing.

Not Rinsing Your Toothbrush

A toothbrush that isn’t rinsed can harbor harmful germs and bacteria (bacteria that you’ll be putting back into your mouth next time you brush). Rinse and dry your toothbrush after you brush to remove food particles, and rid the moist environment that bacteria love. You can also use soap and water or antibacterial rinses for a better clean. Remember, a cleaner toothbrush means a cleaner mouth.

Top 10 Foods That Will Rot Your Teeth

Although your dentist can easily fix any cavities, stains, or teeth issues you may have, it’s better (and cheaper!) to prevent these in the first place, by properly brushing, flossing, and most importantly, eating right. Believe it or not, the food we eat has a big impact on the health of our teeth. This guide will give you a list of foods to watch out for.

1. Dried Fruits : This one may be surprising since fruits are considered healthy, but in their dried form, they are bad for your teeth. The reason for this is they are high in sugar and sticky so easily cling to your teeth, which can cause acids to build up. It’s much better to eat fruits in their fresh forms.

2. Pickles: The acid in vinegar, which is essential to the pickling process, is highly acidic, breaking down tooth enamel and causing staining. If you must eat pickles, consume in moderation and make sure you rinse out your mouth afterward.

3. Wine: Similar to pickles, red and white wines contain erosive acid, which damages the protective layer of your teeth. This lowers calcium and mineral levels and erodes the enamel. Eating cheese with your wine may counter the erosion since it’s high in calcium which helps minimize the acidic damage.

4. Pops and Sodas: Not only are these drinks packed with sugar, they are also highly acidic which lowers calcium and mineral levels and can lead to tooth erosion. Sugar-free sodas, although less harmful, are still problematic since they contain citric and phosphoric acid which can cause tooth problems. It’s better for you – and your teeth- to stay away from these sugar-loaded beverages.

5. Coffee and Tea: Coffee and tea are teeth offenders because they have high tannin content which causes staining. They also make your teeth stickier, which makes it easier for food particles to latch on. A good rule of thumb to remember: The darker the drink, the darker the stain.

6. Hard Candies: Since hard candies take longer to dissolve in your mouth, this allows more time for bacteria to build up and produce teeth eroding acid. During this period, sugar is also sticking to your teeth, doubling the damage to your enamel.

7. Curry: Curry gives Indian food that delicious flavor, but it’s also damaging for your smile. The extreme yellow color of curry practically screams out that it will stain your teeth. Eat curry sparingly and combine it with foods like spinach, that will protect your tooth enamel.

8. Peanut butter: Although peanut butter is chock full of protein, it is also loaded in carbohydrates, which can lead to bacterial growth inside your mouth. Its creamy properties allow it to stick to your gums and teeth, which makes it easier for bacteria to erode your enamel. To minimize this problem, try natural peanut butter with no added sugars.

9. Popsicles: Popsicles are the perfect snack to cool off during the hot summer days; however, these cool colorful treats are also harmful to you. Their bright colors cannot only stain your teeth, but they are also packed full of sugar. Furthermore, the fact that people tend to lick Popsicles, which makes them longer to finish, means that your teeth will be exposed to the sugar for a longer period of time, leading to more potential damage.

10. Popcorn: Many people may not be aware, but popcorn is loaded with antioxidants that help your body. Unfortunately, it is also horrible for your gums and teeth. Popcorn is well-known for being stuck in your teeth, which encourages bacteria growth. The thin shells attached to the popcorn can also cause gum problems and require potential surgery to remove it. Indulging yourself in a bag of popcorn is fine from time to time, just remember to rinse, floss, and brush afterward.

How To Escape Bad Breath In A Pinch

Imagine, you’re sitting in the restaurant with your gorgeous new date.

You’re both laughing and having a great time.

Everything is going perfectly.

When it suddenly hits you… Your breath smells!

Maybe it was the onions you ate for lunch, or the maybe it was the coffee you had after work.
But you know at this moment, you have to get rid of the stank before your date realizes and runs for the hills.

So what can you do?

Here are some tips to quickly freshen your breath – and maybe also save your date.

Tip 1: Moisten your mouth

Bad breath can often be caused by a dry mouth, so you want to keep your mouth moist and wet. Drinking water helps fight bad odor since it washes away food debris and bacteria in your mouth. In fact, you should be drinking 6 to 8 glasses a day.
Ask for a glass of water with a lemon. Squeeze the lemon into your water and mix it.
Lemons contain citric acid, which will help mask the odor.
To get the best benefit, eat the pulp too.

Tip 2: Use salt

Salt is a great way to kill bacteria in your mouth.
Saltwater rinses have been around for ages. References appear as early as 2700 B.C., where the Chinese used it to treat gum disease. It was a common part of the oral hygiene routine for the upper classes during the Roman Empire.
Grab some salt (there should be some on the table), if you can take it without your date noticing. Another option is to leave for the bathroom and ask the waiter for some salt and a glass of water.
Gargle it for 5 to 10 seconds to kill off some of the bacteria.
If your date asks, you can always just say you have a sore throat.

Tip 3: Eat something crunchy

Order a salad that comes with apples, celery, or carrots.
The fibrous nature of these foods promotes saliva production and maintains healthy pH levels in your mouth.
They’re high fiber content also has the added benefit of gently massaging your gums while freshening your breath.

Tip 4: Munch on parsley

Parsley is a fantastic natural breath freshener.
It contains chlorophyll to fight bad breath and neutralize internal body odors before they leave your body. The herb is also rich in calcium and fluorine, which helps to strengthen tooth enamel.
Ask for a dish that comes with parsley for instant breath refreshment. Be sure to excuse yourself after to check if any of the herbs is stuck in your teeth.

Tip 5: Clean your tongue

Did you know that as much as 50% of the bacteria in your mouth live on your tongue? Yuck. And it’s these particular bacteria that cause bad breath. The best way of removing bacteria on your tongue is by scraping it off.

Sneak a spoon into the bathroom and moisten it (this makes it easier to wash the scraped off gunk).

Turn the spoon upside down, stick out your tongue, and gently scrape your tongue from back to front. Don’t forget the sides. Also, try to relax or you will gag.

Once you’re done, rinse your mouth. You’ll be surprised with how much cleaner your mouth will feel.

Practicing Good Dental Hygiene

To keep your breath smelling fresh, it’s important to brush your teeth, floss, and use mouthwash. Good oral habits also keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Bad breath can be caused by a variety of things, including dry mouth, gum disease, smoking, and medications. If bad breath is a persistent issue, you should check with your dentist or doctor for any underlying problems.


Animated Teeth. “Treating bad breath – Tongue cleaning”
Dental Health Week. “Tongue Cleaning:
Marin Gazzaniga “Good Taste: Top 5 Foods to Prevent Bad Breath”
S RupeshJJ WinnierUA NayakAP RaoNV Reddy“Comparative evaluation of the effects of an alum-containing mouthrinse and a saturated saline rinse on the salivary levels of Streptococcus mutans”;year=2010;volume=28;issue=3;spage=138;epage=144;aulast=Rupesh
Stephen. “10 Foods to Cure Bad Breath”
Wiki How. “How to Fix Bad Breath on the Spot”

Are you ruining your teeth?

Are These 5 Habits Wrecking Your Teeth?

You practice good oral hygiene: You brush twice a day, floss daily, and see your dentist every year. First of all, good job and keep it up!

But you may be surprised to learn that you might also have some bad habits that can be damaging your oral health.

What are these bad habits?

Read on to find out…

Chewing Ice

Ice cubes may help cool you down, but they are really bad for your teeth. The hardness of the cubes can chip away tooth enamel and cause them to crack. The cold temperature can also irritate your teeth and lead to toothaches.

If you have to chew something, chew on some sugar-free gum instead. It’s much softer and also helps to freshen your breath.

Using Your Teeth As A Tool

Don’t you just hate it when that pesky bag of chips won’t open? But instead of finding the scissors, you rip the bag open with your teeth instead. Yeah, we’ve all been there.

But that impatience can also be harming your teeth. Your teeth aren’t meant to be used as pliers; they’re meant to help you chew food and speak. Using your mouth as a tool can lead to injuries and broken teeth.

Biting Your Nails

Nail biting isn’t just bad for your fingers; it’s also bad for your oral hygiene. People who bite their nails often do so because they’re stressed or nervous. But when you use nail-biting as a stress reliever, you’re also consuming the bacteria from your fingers whenever you get stressed. Yuck. This can lead to infections in your mouth.

Drinking Soda

Do you like drinking soda? If so, you should probably drink something else. Carbonated drinks (even diet sodas) can ruin your teeth because of their high acid content. The acidity of the soda can erode enamel and cause tooth decay.

The negative effects are multiplied when you’re sipping sodas over a long period of time. The longer you sip, the longer you’re exposing your teeth to the soda’s acid. To give your teeth a break, sip on some water instead.

Biting on Pen and Pencils

Biting on your pen or pencil might help you to concentrate on a task, such as writing or studying. However, you may not realize how much pressure you’re placing on your teeth as you gnaw into the non-food item. This can cause your teeth to shift and crack. Instead, try listening to some music to help you focus on the task.

We understand bad habits are hard to break. But we guarantee if you avoid these habits, you’ll be well on your way to a better smile. If you would like more dental tips, please contact us at Lotus Dental Group in Campbell, California. We’d love to hear from you.


Greene Family Dentistry. “Bad Habits That Are Ruining Your Teeth”

Krisha McCoy, MS. “Common Dental Health Troublemakers”

Lakeview Dental Care. “5 Surprising Ways You’re Ruining Your Teeth”

Do saltwater rinses work?

You can use salt water has a wide variety of helpful benefits.

You can gargle it to heal a sore throat, canker sore or even to help cure bad breath.

But is it really effective for all these things?

In the past, people have been using salt water to help treat wounds – for at least 5000 years. It’s believed the Chinese first used salt water rinses to treat gum disease. The ancient Egyptians also noted its effectiveness on injuries. Even Hippocrates, the father of medicine, encouraged his fellow healers to use salt water to heal various ailments.

So why is salt water good for your mouth?

Salt water rinses are beneficial since they alkalinize the mouth or increase pH levels. This limits bacterial growth because bacteria need a moist environment in order to thrive, so without enough water, they can’t survive.

This is backed by a 2010 study by the Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry. The study shows saturated saline rinses – a solution containing 9 tsp of salt per 2/3 cup of water – kills bacteria in the mouth by dehydrating it. The oral bacteria that the saturated saline attacks can be responsible for a variety of health problems, such as gum disease and bad breath.

Salt water is also astringent and promotes wound healing by reducing inflammation and contracting the tissues. This is why dentists use warm salt water rinses to ease the swelling and pain after dental procedures.

Things to keep in mind

Although salt water rinses are an effective bacteria killer, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to support its use as a daily mouth rinse. Some dentists argue that excessive use of salt water rinses can be harmful because the acidity of it can wear away tooth enamel and cause chipping and cavities.

Swallowing large quantities of salt water can also be unsafe and lead to dehydration. As you drink salt water, the water present in your body is rerouted to help your body break down the excess salt. This causes your other bodily functions to suffer because of the deficient water levels in your system. This means the more saltwater you drink, the more water your body will lose, which leads to thirst, dry mouth, cramps, and vomiting.

Of course, drinking small amounts of salt water won’t hurt you. It’s sometimes even recommended for intestinal and bowel flushes. But the take-home message is clear: If you’re going to use salt water rinses, please do so in moderation.

So do you think salt water rinses are as effective as mouthwash? Please leave your comments below and give us your thoughts. We’d love to hear your feedback.


Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Why Does Salt Work as a Preservative? Nayakod/foodcookingchemistry/f/Why-Does-Salt-Work-As-A-Preservative.htm
Dr. David Kerr. “Mouthwash or salt water rinse”
Eberhard J. Wormer. “A taste for salt in the history of medicine”
S RupeshJJ WinnierUA NayakAP RaoNV Reddy“Comparative evaluation of the effects of an alum-containing mouthrinse and a saturated saline rinse on the salivary levels of Streptococcus mutans”;year=2010;volume=28;issue=3;spage=138;epage=144;aulast=Rupesh

Sirah Dubois. “The Use of Salt Water for Washing the Mouth”

Vicki M. GiuggioWhat if you drink saltwater?”

Alcohol: Why It’s Harmful For Your Oral Health

While enjoying an alcoholic beverage once in a while is fine, too much of it can be a bad thing.

Besides giving you a bad hangover, drinking too much can seriously harm your gums and teeth – especially when consumed on a frequent basis. And since most people drink at least socially, it’s a good idea to be aware of the effects of alcohol on your oral health.

So what are these harmful effects?

High Acid Content

Most alcoholic drinks are highly acidic. Acid wears away tooth enamel, making your teeth weaker and more susceptible to decay. It can also damage gum tissue, increasing your chances of developing gum disease.

Binge drinking is the worst for your oral health. If you’re regularly vomiting from drinking too much, your vomit (which also contains your stomach acid) is further eroding your gums and teeth.


Alcohol dehydrates you and that means your mouth is dehydrated as well. When your mouth is dehydrated, it contains less saliva, which acts as a buffer against harmful bacteria and acid. Saliva helps clean away plaque and bacteria in your mouth and keeps your gums and teeth healthy. Less salvia means you’ll be more prone to bad breath, tooth decay and erosion.

Sugar Assault

Many alcohol beverages, such as pina coladas and sweet sherry, may taste great but are loaded with sugar. This is bad news for your teeth since the bacteria in your mouth feed off the sugar and discharge acid, which further erodes your teeth.

The harmful effects are multiplied when you mix alcohol with soft drinks (such as cola and red bull) since these carbonated drinks are laced with sugar and highly acidic. The worst mixed drink is probably rum and pure cola, due to its mix of sugar, acid and carbonate content. Instead, go for a diet cola instead.

Long Term Consequences

It’s safe to say that if your drinking habits are heavier than ‘recommend’, you should be careful of the long-term effects of alcohol on your body. You may not notice the effects right away (besides the occasional hangover) but they can add up over time and do some serious damage to your health.

Studies show that people who drink excessively are more at risk of developing mouth and throat cancer due to tissue damage. In fact, people who combine smoking and drinking are 3 times more at risk of oral cancer than if you just smoke or drink.

What’s the Solution?

We understand that cutting out alcohol completely is going to be hard for most people. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help protect your teeth when you have your next drink:

  • Stay away from sparkling alcoholic drinks, such as wine and champagne, which have a lower pH level. Dry sparkling wines are the worst since the bubbles are formed by carbon dioxide and thus acidic.
  • When mixing drinks, fruit juices are a better choice than sodas. This is because juice has a higher pH level and is non-carbonated.
  • Use a straw since the drink will go straight to the back of your mouth and limit the amount that comes into contact with your teeth
  • Drink plenty of water. This will help dilute the acid and minimize its wear on your teeth
  • Chew sugarless gum. This will help stimulate saliva and keep your mouth moist.


Cancer Research UK. “Alcohol and cancer: the evidence”
Destination Hope. “The Effects of Alcohol Abuse on Your Teeth”
ETAN SMALLMAN. ” How that nightly glass of wine can wreck your teeth: Dentists warn of the dangers of alcohol for oral health”
Natasha. “The Worst Alcoholic Drinks For Your Teeth” “What alcohol does to your teeth”
Patient Connect 365. “Beer, Wine and Whisky? Good or Bad for Your Mouth?”

Floss Vs. Waterpik – What’s Better?

Where in your mouth is the most important place to clean?

In between your teeth. This is where plaque starts forming and is also the hardest place to reach. Flossing has long been the accepted as the best way to clean these hard to reach areas. However, another device is becoming an increasingly popular option: the Waterpik.

A Waterpik is a device that uses the power of water pressure to flush out bacteria and food debris. It also offers an assortment of interchangeable tips to perform specific cleaning duties, such as cleaning around braces. Nevertheless, both floss and Waterpik have their pros and cons.

Floss – Benefits and Drawbacks

One of the biggest benefits of floss is that it’s super cheap. You can easily pick some up for $2- $3 that can last you for months. Floss is also very effective at removing plaque since it can scrape and clean the areas between your gums and teeth. This is important to prevent oral problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease.

What makes floss less attractive though is that it can be abrasive for some individuals. People with sensitive gums will find flossing rough, and it can even cause bleeding. Also if you’re wearing braces, you won’t be able to use floss since it won’t be able to get past your braces and clean your gums.

Waterpik – Benefits and Drawbacks

Compared to floss, a Waterpik is much gentler on your gums and less likely to cause bleeding. It’s also perfect for people who wear braces since the water can get past the metal wires and rinse out the bacteria and food debris.

A Waterpik may also be better for individuals with gum disease since it can rinse out the deep pockets that are created when your gums pull away from your teeth. Floss simply can’t reach these areas.

However, a big drawback for the Waterpik is that can’t remove plaque as well as floss. The reason is when you’re flossing; you’re literally scraping the sticky plaque off your teeth. A Waterpik only douses these areas with water, which makes the plaque less likely to be removed.
Another drawback is that it’s much more expensive. While floss only costs a few dollars, a Waterpik can cost around $50. This can make it difficult for people who are on a budget.

What’s the verdict?

While waterpiks are great at washing away bacteria and food debris, they do not remove plaque as effectively as floss. That’s why we recommend combining flossing with waterpiks to achieve the best results for your oral health. However, for people who wear braces, have dexterity problems, or who just simply hate flossing, waterpik use will be beneficial. If you can’t or not willing to floss, using a Waterpik is definitely better than just brushing, which fails to clean the areas between your teeth.

Ideally, you should be brushing twice a day and flossing and water picking at least once. It’s best to do it at night since you won’t be in a rush and thus will likely do a better job at cleaning your mouth before you sleep.

If you have any questions about flossing or waterpik use, contact our office today. Our staffs are experienced and are always will to help those who want to improve their oral health. One smile at a time.


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Mark W Langberg, DDS, FAGD. “Are Waterpiks a substitute for flossing?”
Park Ridge Family Dental Care. “Ask the Dentist – Floss vs. Waterpik”