The right toothpaste for each age group
No parent wants to hear the dreaded words, “Your child needs a filling.” Especially in very young children, it is challenging to do dental work once decay has begun. Preventing cavities is a top priority for most parents.
Cavity prevention starts with good oral hygiene. Even before your baby has teeth, you can wipe her gums with a soft cloth to reduce the bacteria that can lead to decay and start good habits. Once those first teeth pop through, you need to start a tooth care program in earnest, and that starts with the right toothbrush and toothpaste.
Most brushes with a small head and super soft bristles are fine for your child. Make sure you select one designed for his age group; you can always ask us if you have any questions about the best child toothbrush.
Here’s a quick rundown on the types of toothpaste available for your child and the right time to use them:
Products sold as training toothpaste for babies and toddlers typically do not contain fluoride. Depending on the brand, they are often more of a liquid than a paste and use bubble gum or fruit flavors to appeal to children (mint flavors are often too strong for little ones’ taste buds).
However, last year, experts at the American Dental Association began recommending that children of all ages use fluoride toothpaste. The difference between babies, toddlers, preschoolers and older children is in the amount used. For babies and toddlers, a rice-sized smear of a fluoride-containing paste is ideal.
Most children’s toothpaste does contain fluoride. You’ll probably find that it also comes in fruity flavors instead of mint varieties; again, this is usually better-tasting for kids.
There is a risk of what’s called fluorosis, or discolored areas on the teeth, when a child ingests too much fluoride. Even with the amount of fluoride in kids’ products, you don’t want to have your child swallow too much. Always encourage your child to spit toothpaste back out into the sink after brushing, but using the recommended amount of a paste sold for children will prevent effects of too much fluoride, even if it is mostly swallowed.
Adults should help kids brush and put the correct amount of paste on the brush until the child is at least six years old. For preschoolers and up, the right amount is usually about the size of a pea.
As long as your child’s toothpaste contains a reasonable amount of fluoride, for example, 1000 ppm, your child can continue to use it as long as you prefer.
Using an adult toothpaste with your child can generally be done anytime after he or she can reliably spit the paste into the sink after brushing. In some cases, we may recommend that you use a mint-flavored adult toothpaste for your younger child, as it can encourage your child to spit instead of swallow.
Most adult toothpaste brands contain more fluoride than children’s pastes and are not okay for consumption. However, the decision on when to switch from a child’s paste to an adult product is one you should make with your son or daughter after age six.
You can contact us any time with your questions about toothbrushes, toothpaste or brushing your child’s teeth.