To stop cavities from forming, dentists now recommend parents begin brushing their children’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth comes in.
Prior to the change, the American Dental Association advised parents to brush with water before the age of two, and then move on to pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste until the age of six.
Now, a drop of toothpaste, equivalent to the size of a rice grain, is what’s being recommended as soon as that first tooth breaks through the gum line.
However, the ADA warns that digesting too much fluoride could lead to dental fluorosis, a condition that leaves white specks or discoloration within the tooth enamel. These spots and stains may darken and become permanent.
According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, “To minimize the risk of fluorosis in children while maximizing the caries-prevention benefit for all age groups, the appropriate amount of fluoride toothpaste should be used by all children regardless of age.”
My son’s first tooth just came in this week. I continue gently rub is gums (and new tooth) with a damp washcloth. I may even add a tiny drop of baking soda. My three-year-old has been using fluoride free toothpaste since her first few teeth came in. I haven’t been in a rush to switch to fluoride because I don’t see the need to. While the ADA says that more than 16 million kids have untreated tooth decay, I’m not concerned with my kids falling into that category.
As far as I’m concerned, paying attention to your kids’ nutrition is more important. If you want to prevent your children from getting tooth delay, avoid sugary drinks and snacks. I’ll allow my daughter to have chocolate on occasion. But, I also make sure she brushes her teeth afterward. She’s at the point where she’s beginning to get used to spitting out the toothpaste. Once she becomes accustomed to doing that, I’d feel better about switching to fluoride toothpaste. We’re in no rush.
How early did you allow your kids to brush with fluoride toothpaste? What do you think about dentists’ recommendation?