Fluoride Toothpaste for Kids: Is It Safe?

By Sher Warkentin in Healthy Feeling

Fluoride has significant oral health benefits, but as a parent, you might be wondering how to start incorporating it into your kids' oral care routine. Learn more about using a fluoride toothpaste for kids and when is the best time to start.

What Is Fluoride, Anyway?

"In its free elemental form, fluoride is a trace mineral called fluorine. This form can be found in the ocean, in bones, and in our own bodies. As an ingredient in oral care products, sodium fluoride can be derived from compound forms, such as the ore fluorspar found in soil and rock. To make sodium fluoride, hydrogen fluoride (derived from fluorspar) is neutralized by sodium hydroxide from brine and dried into a powder.

Fluoride is used in toothpaste and mouthwash as an active ingredient to help prevent cavities. In addition to cavity prevention, fluoride strengthens enamel, which helps to protect teeth against the effects of plaque. As the American Dental Association (ADA) explains, fluoride exposure helps to make tooth enamel stronger before teeth even emerge from the gum line. Once teeth are already out, fluoride can rebuild weakened tooth enamel, minimizing the impact of tooth decay."

A mother brushing her teeth with her baby.

When Should Kids Begin Using Fluoride Toothpaste?

As soon as those first pearly whites emerge, it's time to brush. The ADA's 2012 review of fluoride use in children found that fluoride toothpaste effectively reduced caries (cavities) for young children under six. It currently recommends that kids start brushing with fluoride toothpaste as soon as their first tooth erupts. However, the amount of toothpaste you put on your child's brush is essential to keeping their teeth healthy and safe.

Should Babies Use Fluoride Toothpaste?

Babies can get their first tooth as young as six months old and occasionally even earlier. Teaching a baby that young how to spit out toothpaste is nearly impossible, which is why the ADA recommends using just a smear or a rice grain-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste for children under three years old.

According to the ADA, fluorosis can cause faint white lines or streaks on the teeth when young children ingest too much fluoride while their teeth are still developing below the gums. The same 2012 ADA review determined that ingesting a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste could cause mild fluorosis. Keeping toothpaste to a smear for babies and toddlers ensures that even if they consume it, the amount will stay well below levels that could lead to fluorosis.

Should Toddlers Use Fluoride Toothpaste?

You can increase the toothpaste to a pea-sized amount for children three to six years old. At this stage, it's still important that you monitor brushing to keep ingestion at a minimum. Encourage your little ones to spit out as much as possible after brushing.

No matter what age that first tooth pops out, the ADA recommends consulting with your dentist to determine the best fluoride treatment for your kids.

Tom's of Maine silly strawberry toothpaste.

What to Look for in a Fluoride Toothpaste for Kids

As a parent, you may be looking for personal care products for kids made with ingredients you can feel good about. Choosing a fluoride toothpaste made with naturally derived and sourced ingredients can help you feel comfortable with even your youngest kids using it.

Understanding what fluoride is and how it's used in toothpaste for kids can help you determine the best option for your family.

To learn more about fluoride in oral care products, check out this guide to answer all your questions and concerns about fluoride.

Image Sources: Unsplash | Pexels | Sher Warkentin

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Why It's Good

Fluoride use can strengthen and protect teeth as they emerge, which is why is using a fluoride toothpaste for kids is beneficial from an early age.