When to Start Fluoride Toothpaste With Kids

When to Start Fluoride Toothpaste With Kids

Does your child spit in the sink? Or swallow it all down like dinner?

We started our son on fluoride toothpaste too late. I know some diligent brushers out there are avoiding fluoride altogether, forever, but success in that department seems to depend on your teeth.

I can proudly (and somewhat snottily) say that I don’t have a single filing, even as an adult. How did this turn out? I don’t know. We brushed once a day before bed, growing up, and generally avoided raisins and hard candies. We didn’t drink pop at home.

But we did go wild on Halloween, get a basket full of chocolate at Easter and indulge in candy canes and chocolates at Christmas time. And so I met with some shock when I took my son to his first dental appointment at around 2.5 years old, and was told he had cavities.

How is it possible?? I screamed inside my head. The dental professionals (rather snottily) told me that if we had used proper dental hygiene, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

I had to hold back my disdain. We have brushed our son’s teeth twice a day, since they first appeared. We did give our son fruit juice, but I drank it as well as a child. I felt a cup here and there wouldn’t hurt, and bring him some needed vitamin C. (He rarely gets sick, I’ll note).

Related: 5 Worst Halloween Treats For Your Teeth

Yes, we avoided hard candy when we could. We didn’t have cookies regularly in the house. He loves fruit and eats carrots and broccoli without protest, and so he generally has a pretty balanced diet. What was up?

I don’t have the answer. We’re still dealing with his soft teeth. But I’ll say this: if we do have another child, we’ll be starting fluoridated toothpaste with that kid MUCH sooner. We won’t be waiting until they’re 3 years old. But that’s just us, and a risk we’re willing to take. Every family is different.

What do the professionals advise? The mantra has changed over the years. Advice used to say, no fluoride toothpaste before about 2 years old. Children can’t spit the paste out when their that young and excess fluoride in their system-even from children’s toothpaste which contains less for this very reason- is actually detrimental to their bone development.

But now the American Dental Association is playing a different tune. They say parents should use a “tiny smear” of fluoride toothpaste on baby teeth twice a day, as soon as those little things erupt and break through the gums.

Once kids reach 3 years old, a pea-sized amount should be used. At 6 that turns into a dollop.

Beyond that, I say cross your fingers. Eat healthy meals and hope everything will OK…and not too expensive. At least in this family, perfect teeth seem to be a mystery that we’re still trying to solve.

Photo credits: Noor Haswan Noor Azman/Shutterstock.com


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