Pediatric Guidelines for Using Toothpaste in Young Children

Pediatric dental care is an important part of your child's development. But with all the online sources parents have at their disposal, it's important they find information that is as accurate as it is convenient.

In February 2014, the American Dental Association (ADA) revised its position on the use of fluoride toothpaste with children under two years of age. These updated recommendations mean that much of the information online is now out of date. Use the following points to help you make a decision about when to start your child on a toothpaste that includes fluoride.

What Does Fluoride Do?

Children are subject to tooth decay the moment their teeth come in, so you should be consistent about brushing their teeth. Fluoride is an additive in many toothpastes that are perfect for strengthening the enamel that baby teeth depend on to properly develop. Not all tap or bottled water may contain fluoride, though, so it is important that you use toothpaste that has this substance.

Using Age-Based Portions

The ADA's announcement about its new fluoride recommendations was published in an article in the Journal of the American Dental Association. The new recommendation says that children under three years of age should brush using a "smear" of fluoride-containing toothpaste, no larger than the size of a grain of rice, twice a day (morning and night). After the age of three, the ADA now recommends that children brush with a pea-sized portion, once in the morning and once at night. Previously, the recommendation was for children of two years of age and older brush with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

Supervision and the Seal of Acceptance

As a parent, supervising and guiding your child while they're brushing shouldn't be necessary past a certain age, but it is not unusual for children to have supervised brushing up to the age of 12. This will ensure they remain personally responsible throughout their childhood and as they grow up.

Whether or not you're monitoring your children's brushing habits, make sure they're using products that are right for them. The ADA Seal of Acceptance® is a great source of confidence for parents. It's found on all Colgate toothpastes and shows that they are safe for use, effective, ADA-approved and consistent with the scientific claims they make.

Toothbrush Size

Be sure your child has the right size toothbrush when they start brushing. Colgate® Kids offers an assortment of sizes and shapes for toothbrushes, so that brushing teeth can be a fun and effective path to great oral health. Oral rinses can be useful for all age groups as well; check with your dentist or dental hygienist to make the right choice, and ensure your child enjoys a cavity-free childhood.

Making the right pediatric dental choices comes down to having the right information. Armed with the ADA's new recommendations, you can feel comfortable knowing you're giving your child the best oral care.

About the author: Dr. Huot is the founder and CEO of Beachside Dental Consultants Inc. He has lectured at many meetings, and his past articles have been featured in Dental Products Report, Dental Economics, Dental Practice Report, ADA News and state dental journals. Dr. Huot retired in 2012 from the USAF Reserve Dental Corps after 30 years of military duty, and his last assignment was as the Commander of the 920th Aeromedical Staging Squadron at Patrick AFB, Florida. A past president of the Maine Dental Association in 1994 and the 2006 president of the Atlantic Coast District Dental Association in Florida, Dr. Huot is a Fellow of the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, the Academy of General Dentistry and the Pierre Fauchard Academy.

Brushing can be fun!

Brushing teeth with kids toothpastes and toothbrushes can be a fun activity. Check out our products to choose the one right for your child