Fluoride toothpaste contains lots of fluoride, about 1000 times that contained in fluoridated water. It is not intended to be swallowed. The problem is that children under 6 years old will swallow a significant amount of toothpaste. Excessive swallowed toothpaste prior to age 10 (when the permanent teeth are still developing) can lead to stained permanent teeth.
The benefits of fluoride toothpaste are substantial, but the amount of fluoride toothpaste used each day should be not larger than a small pea. Use a children’s toothpaste that has been approved by the American Dental Association. Apply a very small amount to the brush – the amount that would stick to your finger if you just touched the toothpaste.
Fluoride helps teeth become stronger and resistant to decay. Regularly drinking water treated with fluoride and brushing with a fluoride toothpaste approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) regularly can result in significantly fewer cavities.
Facts about fluoride:
- The correct amount of swallowed fluoride ingested from birth to age 7 can prevent 50% of decay for life.
- All community water systems in this part of Georgia are fluoridated.
- If your child drinks fluoridated water, he/she is receiving all the swallowed fluoride that is necessary.
Oral Hygiene Measures for Young Children
Begin caring for your child’s teeth early — as soon as the first one comes in. This will establish oral hygiene as a routine, and will be much more accepted by your child than waiting until a future date when they may resist it. If your child has had teeth for some time and you have not been caring for them, start now.
We recommend you use a very soft tooth brush when your child is very young. A piece of moist gauze will work as well for the first 6 or 8 teeth. This action is more of a gentle massage than an aggressive brushing. The most important time to brush your child’s teeth is just before bed time. The next most important time is after breakfast. Of course, it would be best to brush after every meal or snack.
The chewing surfaces of back teeth, the areas between teeth where adjacent teeth touch one another, and along the gum line, are more difficult to clean.
Studies reveal that the average child need parental help with brushing until about age 6 and flossing until about age 8.
Children who are not yet 7 years old should not use any fluoride rinsing products, such as ACT. They may swallow some of the rinse even if they don’t intend to.