Twenty five percent of all children in the United States have had a cavity before entering kindergarten. Unfortunately, many of these cavities remain untreated! In response to this alarming rate of cavities in children, the American Dental Association has updated the recommendations to parents regarding fluoride in toothpaste. No longer should you use a fluoride free toothpaste; however, great care should be taken in the amount of toothpaste used. For children less than a year old with a tooth up to three years old, use an amount of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice. For children three to six years of age, graduate to a pea sized amount. Encourage children from an early age to spit out excess toothpaste.
Research done by the American Dental Association Council on Scientific Affairs has provided evidence that supports this regiment. While risks from ingesting excessive amounts of fluoride exist (such as fluorosis), the benefits outweigh the risks. There are more than sixteen million children in the United States suffering from untreated tooth decay.
The risks come in to play when children are left to themselves to brush their teeth. Many toothpastes taste really good, and an unsupervised child may not know any better and want to eat it. It is very important to create habits with small children where brushing teeth in the morning and evening is a supervised activity. While there are many three and four year old children that are quite independent and can navigate with ease on an iPhone or an iPad, they still do not possess the manual dexterity to brush their teeth on their own.
If you’ve been using a fluoride free toothpaste for your child, consider switching and following the new ADA guidelines to prevent your child from requiring dental treatment at an early age.