A gummy bear!
The American Dental Association met in 2012 and agreed upon a recommendation for using fluoride toothpaste on children. Brushing your child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste can reduce the risk of decay, but ingesting too much can lead to dental fluorosis (brown spots of staining) over time. That is why it’s essential to control the amount of fluoride toothpaste your child uses until they are at least six (and after continue to monitor).
When your little one gets their first tooth, you should start brushing with a “smear” of fluoride toothpaste. An example of that is in the picture at the end of the article. It should be no bigger than a grain of rice and you should work with your child early to teach them how to spit. Don’t be too concerned if they swallow it for a long time, because ingesting that small amount of fluoride toothpaste won’t lead to dental fluorosis and is not toxic.
When your kiddo is three years old, you can start using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste. You should be the one to put the toothpaste on and brush for them to ensure how much is used and that their teeth are brushed thoroughly. Brushing your child’s teeth twice a day with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste after they are age three will help prevent decay and will not cause fluorosis.
Be sure to keep your toothpaste out of reach, especially if your kiddo is under six years old, to ensure they can’t consume it without supervision. Fluoride at the recommended amount in water, toothpaste, and fluoride varnish is safe and effective. You can consult your dentist if you have concerns or questions and you can work together to provide the best plan for you and your child.
Smear is on left and pea-sized on right
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that kiddos have their first dental visit around age one. This may seem early, but there are many benefits to seeing a dentist at this age. If your child is older than one, just get them in as soon as possible, ideally by age three.
One reason we see children at age one is to get them introduced to the dentist, the staff, and the office and to establish a dental home. Often times, kiddos are apprehensive to get their teeth brushed and examined. If they start dental visits early, they are often ready to try x-rays and are willing to sit in the big chair by the time they are three.
Another great reason to get your child an appointment around age one is to learn ways to help your child prevent decay. The dentist will answer any questions or concerns you have and can show you how to best brush and floss for your kiddo. Your child will also have fluoride varnish applied to their teeth, which can help remineralize teeth and prevent decay.
It is also important to establish a dental home early in case a dental emergency were to occur. Dental injuries are traumatic to begin with, but going to a place the child is unfamiliar with when they occur can make the experience more difficult. We want each kiddo to feel as comfortable as possible in the dental chair.