Pediatric Dental Specialist
Randall J. Pagenkopf, DMD, PA
I’ve dedicated my life to taking care of children’s teeth, so when I say that kids should use fluoride toothpaste, you can take that to the bank!
Parents want the best for their kids, and many have been wary of fluoride due to the rumors, stories, and reports that have been around for years. However, the ADA recently confirmed what nearly every dentist has been saying for decades — fluoride toothpaste helps prevent cavities!
That’s right — dentists agree that while brushing and flossing is very important, it’s simply not enough to prevent cavities without fluoride toothpaste
I’m a big supporter of finding natural solutions to promote good health, but the science is clear on fluoride. A significant body of research demonstrates the efficacy and safety of fluoride. Switching to “natural”, fluoride-free toothpaste puts your child at risk for tooth decay.
What Is Fluoride?
For parents wanting to stick to what mother nature provides, fluoride is “natural”. It’s a mineral that’s involved in making bones and teeth, being commonly found in plants, soil, and water.
The importance of fluoride in oral health was discovered a century ago when a dentist found the population of Colorado Springs was experiencing an unusual dental problem: Their teeth were unusually resistant to tooth decay.
Research determined that their water supply had unusually high levels of fluoride. Scientists discovered that fluoride helps rebuild tooth enamel that’s been weakened by cavity-causing bacteria.
Decades of research has demonstrated why this discovery is considered one of the greatest scientific achievements of the 20th century, providing a level of protection against a health ailment that nearly everyone will face.
Fluoride toothpaste is simply the most effective and proven way to protect teeth.
Fluoride Toothpaste | Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance
How do you find an effective toothpaste for your child? Fortunately, there’s no need for you to go back to school to understand the intricacies of ingredients labels.
The American Dental Association(ADA) took the guesswork out of toothpaste selection by certifying toothpastes that are safe, contain cavity-preventing fluoride, and have been demonstrated to work.
That Spongebob toothpaste is just fine as long as it has the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
The Amount of Toothpaste Matters
It’s not a question of if your children should use fluoride toothpaste (they absolutely should); it’s a question of how much they should use.
Even healthy, essential nutrients like natural fluoride can cause problems when we consume too much. The trace amounts of fluoride in toothpaste (or in water, for that matter) aren’t great enough to pose a health risk, but toothpaste should still not be swallowed.
Very young children that are just learning to brush should be supervised to make sure they spit out their toothpaste rather than swallow. We recommend doing it as a family activity anyway, as it’s a good way to build healthy habits and set a good example of proper brushing.
Brushing with fluoride should start from the day the first tooth arrives. Until they are about three years of age, a tiny, rice-sized sliver of toothpaste is sufficient to brush little teeth. From there, they can move up to a pea-sized dab of toothpaste until first grade. Children can then regularly use a “regular” amount of toothpaste, just as you would.
These amounts keep fluoride at safe levels for children, even if they do swallow their toothpaste.
Choose Fluoride Toothpaste
Fluoride toothpaste is the clear choice for parents that want to protect their children. Teach children to brush correctly and use the proper amount of toothpaste, remembering not to swallow, and they will be well on their way to a lifetime of good oral health.