When babies first get teeth at around the age of 6 months you should start brushing twice daily with toothpaste but you will want to choose a baby toothpaste rather than just giving them a smidge of yours, this is mainly due to the amount of fluoride contained within regular toothpaste.
Why You Should Start With a Baby/Toddler Toothpaste
While there are many brands out there offering special baby and child toothpastes the main reason you should choose a different toothpaste for babies and toddlers is that baby or children’s toothpaste has a lower fluoride content than adult toothpaste.
Even with the lower fluoride content some people recommend not using a fluoride toothpaste until children are old enough to reliably spit rather than swallow their toothpaste. Making this call should be your decision and you may want to talk to your dentist for more information.
Baby and toddler toothpastes as well as being lower in fluoride or fluoride free also tend to have a milder flavour which can help with encouraging babies and young children to brush their teeth. A strong mint flavour can be too much for little ones. Using a mild mint toothpaste is a great way to get them used to the minty flavour of most adult toothpastes. Or you can choose a fruity flavour if they don’t like the mint.
If you are using fluoride toothpaste it’s really important to make sure you apply the toothpaste for young children so they don’t get too much. Children under the age of 3 should use only a smear of toothpaste, no bigger than a grain of rice, whereas older children can have a pea sized amount.
Too much fluoride is not good for children so you might want to consider low fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay but still give them healthy teeth.
If children like the taste of their toothpaste they might want more or try and eat it from the tube which is not a good idea especially if you are using a fluoride toothpaste as this can cause stomach upset or dental fluorosis.
Encourage brushing to prevent decay, and setting up good oral health routines at this age is vital. Brushing properly is very important for children’s teeth and children’s toothpastes might be more appealing to them to get them to do it! Kids toothpaste is safer as you don’t need to worry so much about excess toothpaste compared to using regular toothpaste.
Fluoride and Dental Health
One important factor to consider when introducing regular toothpaste to children is fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps prevent tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel.
The American Dental Association recommends using fluoride toothpaste to help prevent cavities.
However, it’s important to use toothpaste with the appropriate level of fluoride for your child’s age. Children under three should use a smear (a small, grain-of-rice-sized amount) of fluoride toothpaste, while children over three should use a pea-sized amount.
When it comes to choosing toothpaste for children, parents have a wide range of options available. From natural and fluoride-free options to those with added flavors and colors, it can be difficult to know where to start.
However, selecting the right toothpaste is an important part of maintaining good oral hygiene and promoting healthy teeth and gums. In this guide, we will provide an overview of the different types of toothpaste available for children and offer tips for encouraging good brushing habits.
Potential Risks of Using Regular Toothpaste on Young Children
While regular toothpaste can be safe for children over the age of six, it’s important to be cautious when using it on younger children. Regular toothpaste contains higher levels of fluoride, which can be harmful if swallowed in large amounts.
Young children may not have the ability to spit out the toothpaste properly, increasing the risk of fluoride ingestion. Ingesting too much fluoride can lead to dental fluorosis, a condition that can cause white spots or brown stains on teeth.
Parents should also be aware of the potential risks of using toothpaste that contains other harsh chemicals or additives, such as sodium lauryl sulfate or triclosan.
If you’re concerned about the potential risks of using regular toothpaste on young children, there are alternatives you can consider.
Fluoride-free toothpaste specifically designed for children is a safe and effective option. These toothpastes often contain natural ingredients and are free from harsh chemicals and additives.
Another option is using a toothpaste with a lower concentration of fluoride until your child is able to properly spit out toothpaste.
Types of Toothpaste for Children
Fluoride toothpaste is the most common type of toothpaste recommended by dentists for children. Fluoride helps to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities.
The American Dental Association recommends using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste for children aged 2-5, and a small amount of toothpaste for children under the age of 2.
Natural toothpaste is a popular alternative (natural and more eco) to traditional fluoride toothpaste. These toothpastes are typically made with natural ingredients and free from harsh chemicals and additives. However, not all natural toothpastes are created equal, and it’s important to read labels carefully and ensure that the toothpaste is age-appropriate and contains the appropriate level of fluoride, if any.
Children with sensitive teeth may benefit from using a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes are formulated to reduce sensitivity and may contain ingredients like potassium nitrate or stannous fluoride.
While whitening toothpaste can help to remove surface stains from teeth, it’s important to note that these toothpastes can also be abrasive and may not be suitable for young children.
Potential Benefits of Using Regular Toothpaste for Children
Regular toothpaste can provide a range of potential benefits for children’s oral health. Fluoride has been shown to strengthen tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay. It can also reverse early signs of decay and prevent the development of cavities.
Parents should also be aware that using regular toothpaste may help encourage good dental hygiene habits in their children. By using the same toothpaste as their parents or older siblings, children may be more motivated to brush regularly and take care of their teeth.
When using regular toothpaste on children, there are a few additional tips to keep in mind. First, always supervise brushing sessions to ensure that your child is using the correct amount of toothpaste and brushing for the recommended two minutes.
Encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste after brushing and avoid swallowing it. If your child does accidentally swallow toothpaste, monitor them for any symptoms and contact a healthcare professional if needed.
Make sure to store toothpaste and other dental products out of reach of young children to avoid accidental ingestion.
Encouraging Good Brushing Habits
Lead by Example:
Parents can set a good example by brushing their teeth alongside their child and demonstrating proper technique.
Make Brushing Fun:
Creating a fun and engaging brushing routine can help to make brushing a more enjoyable experience for children. Consider using a timer or playing music during brushing sessions.
Use the Right Tools:
Selecting a toothbrush that fits the child’s mouth and preferences can help to make brushing more comfortable and effective. Electric toothbrushes may also be a good option for children who struggle with manual brushing.
Offering rewards for good brushing habits, such as stickers or a small treat, can help to motivate children to brush regularly and properly.
Visit the Dentist Regularly:
Switching to adult toothpaste
Advice varies as to when you should switch to a toothpaste with a higher fluoride content with some suggesting age three and others suggesting waiting until children are 7.
The NHS website suggests that children age 3-6 can use either a child’s toothpaste with fluoride of 1000ppm or a family toothpaste with fluoride up to 1500ppm. And that children over 7 should use a toothpaste with at least 1350ppm.
Of course, if you are not using fluoride then you don’t need to worry so much about when you switch although you may still find that children do not enjoy a strong minty flavour and are more enthusiastic about brushing their teeth if they get to choose their favourite fruity flavour instead.
It is also important to remember that encouraging children to brush twice a day for 2 minutes is the most important thing so if they need to keep using the toothpaste that they are used to for a bit longer don’t worry too much.
Can adult toothpaste be used for children?
Yes, basically an adult toothpaste can be used for children. It is not harmful for children to use adult toothpaste but it can cause stomach upset if they eat too much of it, you don’t want children swallowing fluoride.
Once they start brushing their own teeth, even baby teeth you want to ensure that a child’s oral health routine is set up for life. Tooth decay can affect baby’s teeth and when they start to brush their own teeth, it’s important to check they are brushing their teeth properly.
Once they get their permanent teeth or adult teeth, then you can consider moving from children’s toothpaste.
When it comes to brushing your child’s teeth, the most important thing is that they brush twice a day for two minutes with toothpaste, even their milk teeth or first tooth.
Once they reach school age, you can start to slowly increase the amount of toothpaste they use until they are using a pea-sized amount. They also need to ensure they are brushing all the chewing surfaces and not just their front teeth.
Most children don’t understand the importance of good oral care, so its vital to help young children with brushing.
When it comes to choosing a toothpaste for your baby or younger children, the main thing to look for is one with zero or a low fluoride content. You may also want to choose a milder flavor, such as fruity or mint, to help them get used to the taste of toothpaste.
It’s also important not to use too much toothpaste – a smear for children under three and a dot-sized amount for older children should suffice.
Once they reach school age, you can start to slowly increase the amount of toothpaste they use until they are using a pea-sized amount.
Common Questions and Concerns
Is Fluoride Safe for Children?
Fluoride is safe for children when used in the appropriate amounts. The American Dental Association recommends that children under the age of two use a smear of fluoride toothpaste no larger than a grain of rice, while children ages two to five use a pea-sized amount.
After the age of six, children can use adult toothpaste in a pea-sized amount. It’s important to supervise brushing sessions and ensure that children spit out the toothpaste properly to avoid the risk of fluoride ingestion.
Are Natural Toothpastes Safe for Children?
Natural toothpastes specifically designed for children are generally safe and effective. These toothpastes often contain natural ingredients and are free from harsh chemicals and additives.
However, it’s important to read labels carefully and ensure that the toothpaste is age-appropriate and contains the appropriate level of fluoride, if any.
Can Using Whitening Toothpaste Damage Children’s Teeth?
While whitening toothpaste can help to remove surface stains from teeth, these toothpastes can also be abrasive and may not be uitable for young children. Parents should consult with their child’s dentist before using whitening toothpaste.
How Often Should Children Brush Their Teeth?
Children should brush their teeth at least twice a day, for two minutes each time.
What Should I Do if My Child Resists Brushing Their Teeth?
If a child resists brushing their teeth, parents can try making brushing a fun and engaging activity, offering rewards for good brushing habits, and modeling good oral hygiene habits themselves. It’s important to establish good brushing habits early on to promote a lifetime of good oral health.
Can using regular toothpaste cause dental fluorosis?
Ingesting too much fluoride can cause dental fluorosis, which can cause white spots or brown stains on teeth. However, when used in the appropriate amounts, fluoride toothpaste can actually help prevent dental decay and promote good oral health.
It’s important to follow age-appropriate recommendations for toothpaste use and supervise brushing sessions to minimize the risk of fluoride ingestion.