Toothpaste & Your Toddler’s Teeth

As you teach your child to brush her teeth, a lot of questions can arise. One of the most common ones we hear is, “Should my toddler be using toothpaste?”

Fluoride, Used Correctly, Is an Amazing Tool
Fluoride has been proven in numerous studies to strengthen teeth against decay, especially in children. Children aren’t necessarily more prone to cavities, but they are usually worse at brushing their teeth and getting all the nooks and crannies. This is why we use every tool we can get to prevent painful, destructive decay in your child’s teeth.

Fluoride Works Best Topically
Fluoride works best as a topical treatment. As it rests on teeth, it reinforces enamel, shielding your little ones’ teeth from erosion. Toothpaste is the perfect vehicle for fluoride because it is applied directly to the teeth daily.

How Much Fluoride Toothpaste is Appropriate?
Some parents are wary of fluoridated toothpaste, for fear of fluorosis. This is discoloration of the teeth (small white streaks) caused by ingesting too much fluoride. However, it takes a large amount of fluoride to cause problems. Most people only get trace amounts of fluoride from brushing teeth with fluoridated toothpaste, since they only brush, rinse, and spit.

The ADA recommends that you start using fluoridated toothpaste as soon as your child’s first tooth appears. However, because children have a tendency to swallow toothpaste, use only a small smear to start out with: only the size of a grain of rice.

As your child gets older and is better at spitting out toothpaste, you can upgrade to a pea-sized drop of toothpaste.

Some Tips for Teaching Your Child to Brush Their Teeth

  • Set a timer: We’re all supposed to brush for two minutes, two times a day. Very few people do. Set a timer to encourage your child to put in the full recommended time. Some phone apps will even divide the mouth into sections to focus on for smaller periods of time.
  • Sing a song: This is another great way to make the time pass while brushing teeth, so your child doesn’t get bored.
  • Educate them using fun experiments: Sometimes simple at-home experiments can illustrate the need for brushing so that it sinks into a child’s mind better.
  • Bring them into our office: We can professionally guide them in the best personal hygiene.
  • Brush together: Brush in a follow-the-leader style so that you can guide your child through all the steps of brushing, and supervise them as you get your own oral hygiene done!