Fluoride is a natural cavity fighter that strengthens tooth enamel to resist decay. Fluoride can be found naturally in many water sources and is often added to municipal water supplies. It’s also added to many types of mouthwash, toothpaste, and other dental products. Young children exposed to excessive amounts of fluoride can develop a condition called fluorosis, which can change the appearance of the tooth enamel but not necessarily impact tooth function or make them more prone to decay. This leaves many parents wondering when it is safe to allow their children to brush with a fluoride toothpaste.
Current Recommendations from the ADA
According to the American Dental Association , parents should begin brushing children’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as they appear. For children under the age of 3, you should only use a tiny smear of toothpaste that is approximately the size of a grain of rice. Children between the ages of 3 and 6 can brush with up to a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. Parents should ensure that children brush their teeth twice a day. Children should also be carefully supervised during brushing to ensure that they use the appropriate amount of toothpaste.
Fluoride rinses can provide additional protection against tooth decay for older children. Unless you are directed to do so by a dentist, the ADA does not advise using fluoride rinses in children under 6. Younger children may not have a fully developed swallowing reflex and may swallow the rinse instead of spitting it out.
Our experienced dental staff is dedicated to helping our patients enjoy a lifetime of good oral health. We can answer any questions you have about brushing, and we offer a wide range of general, cosmetic and restorative dental services to keep your smile looking its best. Call our office to schedule your appointment today.