Are you a new parent and want to make sure your kids have healthy teeth? Most parents will say yes and will have a pretty good idea about general oral hygiene for their children. Yet, where we get a lot of questions at our Duluth practice is surrounding toothpaste. Is fluoride safe for babies? When is it okay to start using toothpaste for kids? Well, we’ve got all of your answers in our guide to choosing the best toothpaste for kids from infancy through the school-age years. This article was made to give answers to those questions and to give new and experienced parents one less thing to worry about.
When Should Babies Start Using Toothpaste?
First off, you can start cleaning an infant’s mouth from birth by wiping down their gums with a soft cloth or piece of moistened gauze. This should be done in the morning and night. It should be light, but make sure to get the entire gum line. Here’s a video to help VIDEO. You should start brushing a baby’s teeth as soon as their first tooth emerges. Use a small, soft, infant-sized toothbrush and a tiny smear of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. If you are like many parents and are concerned about using fluoride toothpaste for babies but it’s recommended as soon as they get that first tooth.
Fluoride, in the correct dose, is absolutely safe for babies. It’s a natural mineral that strengthens the teeth, protects the enamel from the cavity-causing acids found in plaque, and also helps kills some of the bad bacteria in the mouth. While there is fluoride-free toothpaste for babies that’s marketed toward really little ones, the American Dental Association recommends using a regular fluoride toothpaste for kids in a very small amount. They note there is a benefit to introducing fluoride early because about 25% of children have had a cavity before starting kindergarten. Given that tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease, preventative measures like using fluoride toothpaste are essential.
How Much Toothpaste Should Kids Use?
You may have seen in the news that the CDC recently reported that 40% of kids are using too much toothpaste. While fluoride is essential for preventing tooth decay, excessive amounts when the teeth are still developing can lead to fluorosis. Mild fluorosis causes white spots on the teeth when they erupt, while more severe fluorosis can cause pitting and dark brown discoloration. Since babies and little kids don’t know how to spit out the toothpaste, it stays in their mouths, which can worsen the problem.
So, what should you do? Using the correct amount of toothpaste will ensure your children’s gums and teeth will protect them from tooth decay and they won’t receive too much fluoride. Here are some guidelines when it comes to using fluoride toothpaste for kids:
- Children birth to age three – Use a tiny smear (about the size of a grain of rice)
- Children ages three and up – Use a pea-sized amount
Babies and kids should have their teeth brushed twice a day with toothpaste. Parents will want to brush babies’ and young toddlers’ teeth for them and supervise older toddlers, preschoolers, and school-aged kids until they develop good technique and you’re sure they’re spitting the toothpaste out. In fact, as soon as they’re able, have kids spit excess toothpaste in the sink when they’re done brushing. When kids hit their teenage years, they still don’t need a ton of fluoride toothpaste. A thin ribbon across the head of the toothbrush will suffice.
What’s the Best Toothpaste for Kids?
Whenever you are looking for anything involving dentistry make sure to look for the ADA Seal. The ADA does a deep analysis of dental products and if it fits their standards are awarded the ADA Seal of Acceptance on the package. This means that clinical or laboratory tests were performed on the product and the toothpaste was found to be safe and effective. Beyond that, look to ensure it contains fluoride, and keep in mind that kid-friendly flavors don’t hurt either. When kids like how their toothpaste tastes, they’re more likely to want to brush their teeth. Additionally, make sure to teach your kids not to swallow your toothpaste. These are some of the best kinds of toothpaste for kids that we recommend at our office (all are ADA-approved):
- Tom’s of Maine Natural Anti-Cavity Kid’s Toothpaste – This toothpaste contains fluoride but doesn’t have any artificial flavors, sweeteners or preservatives. The Silly Strawberry flavor is a true crowd pleaser among the tiny crowd!
- DTI Toothgel (Bubblegum, Bubblegum Saccharin Free, Mint) – This toothpaste comes in some great flavors and is a great option for any kid young and old.
- Aquafresh® Bubble Mint Toothpaste – You get cavity protection and a great taste with this toothpaste. One of the reasons we consider it among the best toothpaste for kids is its low abrasion so even if kids who are learning to brush use too much pressure, their teeth will be safe.
- Crest® Kids’ Cavity Protection Toothpaste – These mild, enamel-safe toothpaste for children are tasty and protect little teeth from cavities. You can find versions featuring Frozen, Toy Story, Mickey Mouse, and more.
Colgate® Kids’ Mild Bubble Fruit Flavor – This Colgate toothpaste for toddlers, babies, and kids is gentle, sugar-free, fights cavities, and has a mild flavor. You can get it with a variety of characters on the packaging like Minions or Trolls. Kids ages six and up might prefer the Colgate Kids 2in1 Toothpaste, which combines toothpaste and mouthwash in one formula.
Who is Woodland Family Dental?
Woodland Family Dental is one of Duluth, Minnesota’s top family dental offices. with over 65 five-star reviews on Google and Facebook, our team makes it our mission to provide the best dentistry for anyone that needs it. Our experienced team of dentists offers a wide array of dental services including general cleanings, cosmetic dentistry, and dental implants. Woodland Family Dental is here to help you with your dental needs. Not to mention our great location on Miller Trunk Highway right next to the mall in Duluth, Minnesota. Woodland Family Dental cares about helping our patients and accepts almost all insurances. Set up an appointment today and see why so many families love us. Additionally, don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date, get more tips, and learn about what our team is up to.
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