What Should You Do When Your Child Swallows Mouthwash?

Mouthwash, however nicely flavoured, isn't meant to be swallowed since it often contains products that will be harmful in large doses. Unfortunately, children are often tempted to swallow theirs, either because they don't understand that they need to spit it out, have difficulty controlling their swallowing reflex, or simply because of the taste and attractive colour.

Children should really be supervised while using mouthwash to make sure this doesn't happen – that's why most brands use child-safe caps. However, it is still possible for swallowing to occur. If it does, this is what you need to do.

Find Out How Much Was Ingested

Firstly, you need to find out, if you can, how much was actually ingested. Mouthwash manufacturers know that some of the product will be ingested, so a small amount is not normally cause for concern. A whole capful, on the other hand, can be more serious; if your child drank from the bottle, they will almost certainly have ingested a dangerous amount.

Check the Ingredients

Next, find the bottle and take a look at the ingredients. Mouthwashes aren't all made of the same things. When you get in contact with a professional, you'll need to know exactly what has been swallowed. Mouthwashes containing alcohol are particularly problematic for children, which is why child-friendly mouthwashes don't tend to contain it. If even a small amount of alcoholic mouthwash has been ingested by your child, treat the issue seriously.

Call Poison Control

Now that you know exactly what is in the mouthwash and roughly how much of it was consumed, you can call poison control. Don't let yourself think of this as overly dramatic. Mouthwash might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about poison, but its effects can be serious and poison control can provide quick, effective advice.

Tell them exactly what happened and provide as much information as possible, then follow their advice. If your child gets sicker than they said, call back to reassess the situation. Don't take any steps yourself, such as trying to make your child vomit, before consulting them.

Give Them Milk

Most of the time, swallowing mouthwash will result in only minimal symptoms, but these can still be unpleasant. Abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and nausea can all occur, and children can find such symptoms particularly worrying. If they do occur, try giving your child a glass of milk. It is usually the fluoride found in mouthwash that causes such symptoms; milk is able to bind to fluoride, making it inactive.

For more information, you can also contact a dentist.