When Should Children Start Using Fluoride Toothpaste?

When Should Children Start Using Fluoride Toothpaste?
Over the last several years, there have been several studies and reports on the effects of fluoride in the body. Reading through these reports, there are obvious benefits to fluoride but also some health concerns as well. Therefore, it’s natural to feel a little apprehensive towards fluoride.

Now whether you are pro-fluoride or against fluoride, that’s a choice you can make but it’s essential to have all the facts and research before you make that decision. We get many patients coming to our office inquiring about it and we are more than happy to sit down and discuss it. One of the common questions we get is about toothpaste and when is it safe for children to use fluoridated toothpaste. It is important to stress that fluoride in toothpaste has been approved by both the FDA and the Canadian Dental Association/American Dental Association based upon a great deal of research.
Before answering the question of what age it is safe to use fluoridated toothpaste, it is important to understand why it is present in your toothpaste. Fluoride has been shown to strengthen teeth by incorporating itself into the teeth and thus, making them more resistant to cavities. Now, by drinking fluoridated water, you are bringing the fluoride into your body and therefore, it is a “systemic” dose. The fluoride has to travel through your bodily system to reach the teeth. The fluoride you receive from toothpaste is meant to be placed on your teeth and then removed afterwards by rinsing and spitting. In this form, fluoride is considered to be a “topical” dose and it is applied directly at the source (i.e. the teeth).
However, if the toothpaste is swallowed, then it goes from being a topical application to a systemic dose. Therefore, to answer the question as to when it is safe to use fluoridated toothpaste, the simple answer is when your child is able to spit and rinse. If they are unable to, then most likely they will swallow it. And swallowing toothpaste can lead to some unnecessary and unwanted results such as fluorosis (white spots on teeth).
There are several alternatives to fluoridated toothpastes that can be used while your child learns to brush properly. These toothpastes contain no fluoride and therefore are safe to swallow if your child is unable to spit. In addition, some contain certain ingredients that assist in combating tooth decay but are still safe to use while your child is learning the ins and outs of brushing. But as always, it is best to sit down with your local dentist and go over what’s best for you particular situation.

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