Fluoride toothpaste use for young children
You may have heard in the news that there are new fluoride toothpaste recommendations for children! As pediatric dentists we have been recommending using fluoridated toothpaste as soon as the teeth erupt for the past few years as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). Until now there have been different recommendations for the use of fluoride toothpaste in children from the AAPD, American Dental Association (ADA), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We are happy to see the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs has agreed on a unified recommendation on the use of fluoride toothpaste. This will eliminate confusion regarding the use of fluoridated toothpaste in young children.
Children under 3 years old should use a smear of fluoridated toothpaste (or approximately rice grain size) and children 3-6 years old should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride. Caregivers should begin brushing their child’s teeth two times a day with a smear of fluoride toothpaste as soon as the teeth first come into the mouth. For children 3-6 years old, caregivers should dispense a pea sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. We recommend caregiver assistance until the child is at least 8 years old.
Previously the recommendations have been confusing because different groups have recommended different amounts of toothpaste containing fluoride depending on age. We know that fluoride toothpaste is very effective at reducing the risk of cavities. However exposure to too much fluoride can lead to a condition called fluorosis. By controlling the amount of toothpaste that is on your child’s toothbrush you can be sure they are optimizing the benefit of fluoridated toothpaste and minimizing the risk.