Did you know it’s not only safe to use fluoride toothpaste on your infant’s teeth, but advised by the American Dental Association? In the past, it was recommended to wait until your child turned 2. Now it is encouraged as soon as your child’s first teeth erupt.
“Fluoride plays a pivotal role in the development, protection and repair of teeth,” says West Haven dentist Dr. Joseph Tartagni. “It is especially important to keep your child’s baby teeth healthy, which is why I believe the ADA is encouraging fluoride use at a younger age. Much thought and research went into changing this recommendation. Rest assured it was made with your child’s best interest in mind.”
Decay can occur in baby teeth as soon as they erupt. This decay is often referred to as baby bottle tooth decay in reference to their main source of sustenance at the time. Although baby teeth are temporary, it doesn’t mean they can’t have a lifetime impact on your child’s oral heath. In fact, they may even predict it.
The Importance of Baby Teeth
Baby teeth hold a space for adult teeth to erupt, allow for proper bite and chewing function and allow for proper speech development. Decayed baby teeth can permanently discolor the adult teeth developing below, and lead to crowding and misalignments when lost early. This is why the ADA recommends you take your child in for her first dental checkup when her first tooth erupts or by age 1.
Oral hygiene begins for your baby a few days after birth, and consists of wiping her gums with a clean moist gauze or washcloth. Begin brushing her teeth with a rice grain-sized smear of fluoridated toothpaste as soon as they erupt – this could happen anywhere from six to 14 months.
By age 3 she should have a full set of 20 baby teeth. At this time you can begin to use a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste to brush her teeth.
Parents should continue brushing their child’s teeth until they are confident she can do it properly on her own, and know to spit out the leftover product. Parents should begin flossing their child’s teeth as soon as two teeth touch.
Still Worried About the Safety of Fluoride?
Fluoride is like many important vitamins and minerals, in that it can be toxic when high quantities are consumed. But like other vitamins and minerals, it is difficult to consume dangerous levels without abusing supplements or swallowing products that aren’t meant to be swallowed, such as toothpaste and mouth rinse.
The following foods contain the highest fluoride levels, and are staples in many healthy diets.
- grape juice
Your child’s physical health will not be at risk if you adhere to the recommended amounts of oral care products, and perform or monitor your child’s oral care routine until they are capable of performing it on their own. We can also ease your mind by evaluating the fluoride levels of their teeth and your drinking water.
Most oral problems can be prevented with biannual cleanings and maintenance of a faithful oral hygiene regimen. If you haven’t established a dental home for your child yet, we would love to meet with you and get them started toward lifetime oral health with routine exams and cleanings. Call today to schedule an appointment with one of our dentists.