Fluoride Toothpaste: Right for All Ages
Plaque, a film of bacteria that forms daily on teeth and gums, can cause gum disease and tooth decay. Brushing with toothpaste helps remove plaque. But what kind of toothpaste is best for your child?
Many toothpastes contain fluoride, a fluorine compound that also helps prevent tooth decay by inhibiting the loss of minerals from tooth enamel and encouraging remineralization of teeth. It also affects the bacteria that cause cavities by discouraging the acid attacks that break down the tooth.
But ingesting fluoride can be bad for your child. Too much fluoride may cause a condition called fluorosis. A mild case of fluorosis can cause cosmetic damage to the enamel of the child’s developing teeth, while more severe cases can cause the enamel to become pitted with brown discoloration.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has stated that the use of fluoride is safe and highly effective. The most effective way for children to get fluoride involves frequent topical application of low doses. That means using fluoride toothpaste, even for young children.
If your child is less than two years old, start brushing your child’s teeth twice a day when the first tooth appears. Apply a tiny smear of fluoridated toothpaste to your child’s soft toothbrush. Brush all surfaces of the teeth and gums.
If your child is two to six years old, use a “pea-sized” dollop of fluoridated toothpaste. Be sure not to use too much toothpaste—studies have shown that parents often underestimate the amount of toothpaste they put on their child’s toothbrush. Follow these toothbrushing guidelines:
- Brush your child’s teeth until the child is old enough to brush properly.
- Once your child is old enough, closely supervise your child’s toothbrushing.
- Limit toothbrushing to twice a day.
- Use an appropriately sized, soft toothbrush.
- Teach your child to spit out toothpaste rather than swallowing it.
- Minimize or eliminate rinsing after brushing.
Fluoride toothpaste, when used properly, can help protect your child’s teeth from decay and cavities. Be sure to store toothpaste in a place that is inaccessible to your child to prevent him or her from consuming excess toothpaste.
If you have questions about fluoride toothpaste, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.