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07Feb2011

When Should A Child Start Using Toothpaste?

IT’S NO SECRET THAT TAKING CARE OF THE SMALL MEMBERS OF THE FAMILY IS A FULL-TIME JOB FOR PARENTS. Along with bath time, naps, diaper changes, and medical checkups, parents also need to take care of their children’s teeth. But,  what exactly are the best ways to go about caring for baby teeth during those early years?

Birth To 18 Months: No Toothpaste Required!

Like most dentists, Dr. Pitts believes that oral care is important for everyone—no matter what their age. You should begin cleaning your child’s teeth as soon as the teeth begin to come in. However, for babies younger than 18 months, the best way to clean your child’s teeth is without toothpaste. Instead, gently rub their teeth and gums with a cloth over your fingertip. This, along with nursing and drinking lots of water, is all the oral hygiene that your child needs at the infant stage. Once a “full set” of teeth has come in, use a small, soft toothbrush to brush your child’s teeth with water.

When To Start Toothpaste? 18 Months

As a general rule, children should not use toothpaste until they are at least 18 months old—and when they do start using toothpaste, make sure you buy a safe “children’s toothpaste” that’s made especially for young ones. Children have different dental needs than grown-ups, so children’s toothpaste is made with those needs in mind.

What To Look For In A Children’s Toothpaste:

  • SAFE TO SWALLOW: Young kids love to swallow toothpaste while brushing, rather than spitting it out, so make sure you buy one that takes this into consideration.
  • CONSIDER LOW-FLUORIDE CHILDREN’S TOOTHPASTE: While we know that fluoride is an important element of keeping teeth healthy and strong, too much of it can be harmful for young children. Several varieties of children’s toothpaste have lower amounts of fluoride or are fluoride-free.
  • FUN FLAVORS: Try some different flavors of toothpaste and see what your child likes. Some children, especially at the toddler stage, might be reluctant to use a certain flavor of toothpaste so be prepared to buy a few different varieties till you find a winner.
  • USE ONLY A PEA-SIZED AMOUNT: Don’t use too much toothpaste—just squeeze a small, pea-size (or smaller) amount onto the toothbrush. Your child doesn’s need much toothpaste to be affective, and you don’t want your child to swallow too much toothpaste.

When can my child use an adult toothpaste?

Once your child is old enough to successfully spit out most of the toothpaste while brushing they are ready for a toothpaste with fluoride. Usually, this happens around age 4-6. However, they should still only use a “pea-size” amount.

REMEMBER: Brushing your child’s teeth is an important part of parenting, and you need to start at a young age. By taking the time each day to clean your child’s teeth after breakfast and before bed, with a specially-formulated children’s toothpaste, you will be creating a lifetime of happy smiles and healthy dental habits!

Leave us a comment on our Facebook Page or on Twitter with any other questions you might have about toothpaste for the little ones—or feel free to contact us with any questions. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

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