The American Dental Association’s (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs (CSA) has recently updated its guidelines on fluoride toothpaste use for younger children. The ADA has overturned its decades-old recommendation and now suggests that parents and caregivers use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste as soon as their children’s first tooth comes in.
Parents should brush and floss their child’s teeth until they’re 7 or 8 years old. This is about the same time they have the dexterity to tie their own shoelaces.
CSA previously recommended using water to brush the teeth of children younger than 2 years old and to brush the teeth of children 2 to 6 years old with a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste. In order to ward off cavities, the ADA updates its guidelines and recommends using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice for children younger than 3 years old and a pea-size amount for children 3 to 6 years old.
This advice was prompted by the soaring rates of U.S. children who develop tooth decay before kindergarten. In a press release, Dr. Edmond L. Truelove, chair of the Council on Scientific Affairs said, “Approximately 25 percent of children have or had cavities before entering kindergarten, so it’s important to provide guidance to caregivers on the appropriate use of fluoride toothpaste to help prevent their children from developing cavities.”
However, the dental group emphasized that only the tiniest amount of fluoride toothpaste should be used to minimize the risk of fluorosis, a mild discoloration, white spots or streaking of the teeth caused by ingesting fluoride toothpaste at a young age. Parents are also urged to teach young children early on to spit out toothpaste after brushing and not swallow it.