Fluoride toothpaste for kids is always a concern for parents. Talk to some parents, and they’ll come up with ten different reasons why you shouldn’t use fluoride toothpaste. Talk to others, and it’s a completely different story. With so much information and conflicting opinions on the matter, it’s no wonder many parents feel overwhelmed when it comes to children’s fluoride toothpaste.
Getting opinions and thoughts from parents is one thing. Getting information from The Super Dentists, San Diego’s premier parent and pediatric dentist, is quite another. That’s why our in-house experts put together this comprehensive, go-to resource covering:
- What fluoride is and why it’s effective
- Fluoride for toddlers and babies
- Myths about fluoride toothpaste for kids
- Fluoride safety and recommendations
- And much more
Keep reading to learn our take on fluoride toothpaste for kids and also why you shouldn’t use a fluoride toothpaste in some instances. And always keep in mind, fluoride is just one part of a well-rounded dental healthcare regimen. Healthy teeth and gums are impacted by everything from dietary habits to lifestyle choices and more.
What is Fluoride and Why is It in Toothpaste?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring substance present in some foods and is also present in natural bodies of water like streams, ponds, and lakes. Given its innate enamel-strengthening properties, fluoride is a supplementary ingredient in many oral healthcare products, particularly toothpaste.
Fluoride makes teeth more resistant to acid and other compounds that promote tooth decay. Fluoride helps reduce the risk of cavities – a major dental issue for children – and has been shown to reverse signs of early tooth decay. Because it is beneficial for oral health, and indirectly for overall well-being, trace amounts of fluoride have also been added to many U.S. water supplies, which is considered one of the most significant public health initiatives in recent memory.
However, the presence of fluoride in toothpaste is always a subject of controversy, especially for concerned parents. Like any compound, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing – and excess amounts of fluoride can become toxic. Because of this, fluoride toothpaste for kids is always in the news.
The Super Dentists is here to dispel some of the myths associated with children’s fluoride toothpaste.
Should Baby Toothpaste Have Fluoride? Can Infants and Babies Use Fluoride Toothpaste?
This is one of the most common questions we are asked at The Super Dentists. So here are the facts.
An overload of fluoride could cause a condition called dental fluorosis, which actually alters the appearance and color of tooth enamel. Plus, fluoride ingested in large amounts could lead to dangerous toxicity. For these reasons, parents are right to be concerned about babies (with teeth growing in) and toddlers using fluoride toothpaste.
The American Dental Association “currently advises caregivers to brush with water, and to consult with a dentist or physician before using fluoride toothpaste, for children younger than 2 years. Use of a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste is recommended for children from 2 to 6 years of age.”
As the dentists the ADA recommends you consult, The Super Dentists recommends no toothpaste, including fluoride toothpaste, for babies up to one year old. But that doesn’t mean you should rush out and grab fluoride toothpaste for your 1-year-old.
For babies who haven’t quite cut their teeth, simply use a damp cloth with warm water to wipe away any food particles and other substances. For toddlers (12 to 36 months old), once they’ve cut their first teeth, a trace amount of fluoride is acceptable (more on that in the next section).
The main reason why babies and toddlers are susceptible to fluoride overload is due to two reasons:
- Tasty, sweet toothpaste (kid toothpaste or training toothpaste) that young children naturally want to swallow.
- Babies and toddlers aren’t able to spit properly, thus leaving more toothpaste in the mouth.
Because of this, warning labels are required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for all fluoride products (mainly toothpaste) for any child under 6 years old. The labels warn against giving any child under 6 fluoride toothpaste and to avoid swallowing more than is necessary for brushing.
Remember, this warning label is more about preventing too much fluoride ingestion. Fluoride toothpaste for toddlers is safe if used in moderation like every other toothpaste.
Is Fluoride Toothpaste for Toddlers: Is It safe? Is It necessary?
Is fluoride necessary for toddlers? Fluoride is safe for toddlers (12 months or older) as long as you limit the amount. Remember, there is no need for toothpaste for babies whose teeth haven’t appeared.
The American Academy of Pediatrics echoes the recommendations of the ADA discussed above. They “Recommend use of fluoridated toothpaste starting at the eruption of the first tooth. A smear or grain-of-rice-sized amount is recommended for children younger than 3 years, and a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is appropriate for most children starting at 3 years of age.”
When your toddler cuts their first teeth, it’s time to start brushing. Ensure the amount of toothpaste used is no larger than a large pea – just a dollop is fine. Follow this list to ensure safe, effective brushing, and how to make tooth brushing fun for toddlers:
- Always supervise brushing.
- Apply the toothpaste yourself to ensure the correct amount.
- Observe your child and make sure all teeth are covered.
- Set a good example – use the same children’s fluoride toothpaste on yourself so your child can follow along.
- Make sure they spit out all the toothpaste after brushing.
- Rinse thoroughly when all is done.
If you don’t want your child to have fluoride toothpaste, and have come to the conclusion there are too many reasons why you shouldn’t use fluoride toothpaste, check out our article on the best fluoride-free toothpaste for toddlers. You will find there are plenty of alternative options available.
Our recommendation is to consult with your Super Dentist and choose a toothpaste that fits your child’s unique oral healthcare requirements – fluoride or not.
Recommended FluorideToothpaste for Young Children
When purchasing fluoride toothpaste for kids, let your dentist know which brand you’re interested in. Children’s fluoride toothpaste is safe and effective, but your dentist may have a better recommendation.
The bottom line when it comes to fluoride toothpaste for kids is to limit the amount. Always supervise children under 3 years old when brushing to ensure they’re not swallowing more toothpaste than absolutely necessary.
If you have more questions about children’s fluoride toothpaste, or you’re debating why you shouldn’t use fluoride toothpaste, contact The Super Dentists today! Call us at 1 (855) GO SUPER, or schedule your appointment online. We’ll be glad to discuss everything related to fluoride toothpaste for kids to ensure your child receives optimal care in and out of the dental office!
Category: Dental Health
About the Super Dentists
The Super Dentists are San Diego’s largest and most trusted Pediatric Dentist, Orthodontic and Parent Dentistry practice. We create the most unique and out-of-this-world dental experience for children and their parents. We are the only dental practice where kids ask, and even beg, their parents to take them to the dentist – imagine that!
We offer the newest technologies for the most comfortable, safe, and effective dental treatments. The Super Dentists accept most insurance, including Medi-Cal, and is available on the weekends and for emergencies. With 6 locations throughout San Diego and growing, the practice gives back to our communities whenever possible by hosting free quarterly events, and complimentary dental care to those in need.