Start using fluoride-containing toothpaste as soon as baby teeth come in
© 2014 Roy Benaroch, MD
A new guideline from the American Dental Association suggests that parents start using fluoride toothpaste early to best protect teeth. (The guideline itself is behind a paywall, but you can read a summary here.)
The old advice was to wait until age two to use fluoride. The concern had been that babies can’t spit well (ironic—they seem to spit up just fine when they want to), and that early fluoride could lead to fluorosis, or a staining of teeth. But it turns out that the vast majority of children with fluorosis have minimal cosmetic changes that are only noticeable by a dental professional, and that mild fluorosis actually strengthens teeth. An appropriate amount of fluoride toothpaste, when used very young, will lead to fewer cavities and better dental health.
How much is the right amount? The ADA is suggesting just a smear, or a bit of toothpaste about the size of a single grain of rice. That’s not a lot. Even for older kids, past three, a pea-sized amount is plenty. (That’s what’s recommended for adults, too. The big blobby stripe of toothpaste shown in commercials is there just to trick you into using too much.)
Once teeth come in, brush them twice a day with a rice-sized bit of fluoride-containing toothpaste twice a day. Now, if we could also get them to floss….