New Toothpaste Rules. (Update to 411 Guidance)

Mother brushes her son teethIt’s never too early to keep those teeth clean…that’s the message behind the new American Dental Association’s guidelines for baby teeth.

The ADA recommends parents use a tiny amount (smear size) of fluoride toothpaste twice daily to “brush” baby teeth as soon as they grow in.

What has Changed? The prior rule, which we followed in Baby 411 and Toddler 411, says to wait until kids are two-years-old.

Why the Change? One word…cavities.

As soon as teeth appear, the possibility of decay can occur. And dentists have seen more and more cavities in younger and younger children. In fact, one report says that dentists have seen preschoolers at all income levels with 6 to 10 cavities or more.

That’s concerning.  The ADA reviewed more than a dozen studies and found that early brushing works. So to combat the rise of cavities, they suggest to do just that…get a jump start on prevention.

New guidance:

  • Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth.
  • As soon as teeth appear (between 6 to 14 months old), decay can occur so begin brushing. For children younger than 3 years old, use a smear or rice-grain size fluoride toothpaste gob and “brush” teeth twice per day (morning and night) or as directed by a dentist or physician.
  • For children 3 to 6 years of age, use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste twice per day (morning and night).
  • Until you’re confident your children can brush their teeth without swallowing the toothpaste, supervise their brushing.

For more information about dental hygiene and kids, visit the ADA’s websites

Ari Brown, MD

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