It is generally accepted that brushing teeth with fluoride is beneficial, helping to prevent cavities and tooth decay. However, many parents worry about using the chemical in children’s toothpaste, as they are concerned about the effect it may have on their child’s health overall.
The American Dental Association (ADA) has recently conducted a study that should help quell concerns about the use of fluoride. In fact, the results have led the organisation to call for parents to begin brushing their children’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste from the start, as soon as the first one arrives.
The ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs (CSA) is updating its guidance, which advises caregivers on the best ways to keep children’s teeth healthy. The guidance is intended for US parents, however the results of the CSA’s research are applicable to mums, dads and dental health professionals worldwide.
The CSA study found that brushing a child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste is essential from the very start. As soon as the first tooth comes in, parents should begin brushing with just a smear of toothpaste containing the chemical.
A ‘smear’ is defined as “an amount about the size of a grain of rice”. Once the child reaches three years old, it is recommended that an amount of fluoride toothpaste about the size of a pea is used. This is to prevent too much of the chemical being swallowed, which can sometimes cause an upset stomach in young children.
Edmond L. Truelove, the CSA’s chair, said: “For half a century, the ADA has recommended that patients use fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities, and a review of scientific research shows that this holds true for all ages.”
Dentists in the UK can use this research to better improve the dental health of their patients. However, it is important not to simply tell parents to use the toothpaste and leave it at that. Dentists should talk their patients through the use of the chemical, and reasons for it, to ensure they can make a well-informed decision about using fluoride.