Whether you speak to your child’s dentist or a pediatrician, both will agree — good oral hygiene is essential for even the littlest patients. Although some believe healthy tooth habits begin during the toddler years, it’s never too early to start. In fact, the consensus among dental professionals is that your child should see a pediatric dentist after their first tooth erupts, by the age of one.
Besides this first dental appointment, there are basic oral hygiene habits you can start establishing with your kids from a young age. You guessed it — brushing and flossing. Incorporating these into your child’s routine while they’re young will set them up for dental success down the road, as well as prevent tooth decay and other oral health issues.
But unfortunately, it’s not always that easy. Parents may be on board with this whole brushing thing, but kids are a different story. If your children fight you about brushing their teeth, you are not alone. Even dentists find it hard to get their kids to brush their teeth. There’s also the question about which toothpaste is the best choice. Is children’s toothpaste effective? Is toothpaste harmful if swallowed?
Here we will discuss different kinds of toothpaste, from natural to fluoride, and explore which is best for your child’s overall oral hygiene.
The Difficulties of Brushing Kids’ Teeth
Let’s see if this scenario sounds familiar — you announce it’s toothbrushing time, and your kid runs in the opposite direction. Several factors may be making your child resistant to brushing their teeth. It could be that you haven’t yet established it in their routine. However, the most common reason is the toothpaste itself. What we find minty and refreshing could send your kids running for the hills. Some of the most common complaints kids have against toothpaste are:
- The taste
- The color
- It gives them a tummy ache
- Their mouth is sensitive, and they don’t like the way it feels
That’s why finding the right toothpaste is crucial.
Choosing the Best Toothpaste for Your Kids
If kids got to pick their toothpaste, they would more than likely go for something sweet or one that had their favorite cartoon character on the tube. But as the parent, we know how important it is to find the best option that will be good for your child’s teeth and also have a taste or texture they’ll enjoy.
The biggest debate we have in Portland is whether or not to give young children toothpaste with fluoride. Is fluoride safe for young kids? After all, our city doesn’t have any fluoride in the drinking water. So, when choosing your child’s toothpaste, the most critical decision you have to make is choosing a natural toothpaste or one that includes fluoride.
Are Natural Toothpaste Remedies Effective & Safe?
The primary concern parents have against toothpaste that contains fluoride is a dental issue called fluorosis. Dental fluorosis can happen to children before they reach the age of eight. It’s caused when small children receive too much fluoride as their permanent teeth are developing below the surface.
However, it’s mostly a cosmetic concern, as it can cause small white spots on the teeth. It’s not painful and hasn’t been linked to adverse health effects. In fact, once adult teeth start coming in, the risk of developing fluorosis completely goes away.
However, the fear of fluorosis has made many parents pursue more natural toothpaste options. Some of the most common of these include:
- Baking Soda: This is an old toothpaste option that many find actually brightens the color of their teeth. Not only is it fluoride-free, but the abrasive texture helps to remove sticky plaque and sugar deposits. However, when swallowed, it can cause diarrhea or even kidney stones. Plus, the taste and texture are quite unpleasant to many young children, who should typically stick with gentle toothpastes.
- Thieves Toothpaste: Formulated using the popular essential oil Thieves, this toothpaste is free from fluoride and leaves mouths feeling refreshed. However, some children may not like the flavor of Cloves, Cinnamon Bark, Wintergreen or Thyme.
- Natural Teeth Cleaning Remedies: Today, you can purchase many organic brands that do not contain fluoride at local stores and online. But do “natural” teeth cleaning remedies really work? Unfortunately, not all natural toothpaste are created equal. Even if a toothpaste claims to be organic, it may contain ingredients you wouldn’t want your young brusher to ingest.
Toothpaste With Fluoride
The development of fluorosis is extremely rare. Yet, because of a lot of misinformation, many now believe fluoride to be dangerous to young teeth. The truth is, fluoride is essential to the prevention of cavities in adults and children. This natural mineral is found in certain foods and beverages. Before your kids’ teeth erupt, the body uses fluoride to make tooth enamel stronger. Even after teeth come out, it rebuilds weakened tooth enamel and reverses early signs of tooth decay.
In cities like Portland, where there is no fluoride in the water supply, it’s essential to include fluoride in your child’s toothpaste. Although you can use natural toothpaste, you should not rely on this alone to clean your kids’ teeth properly. Toothpaste without fluoride will not provide the cleaning or protection that comes naturally from this mineral.
There is a vast variety of toothpaste with fluoride. So, finding a flavor your kids enjoy may take some trial and error, but shouldn’t be impossible.
How Much Toothpaste to Use When Brushing Kids’ Teeth
Unfortunately, young children don’t know how to spit their toothpaste very well, especially if they like the taste of it. However, the risk of fluorosis is manageable when kids are supervised as they brush and given the proper amount of toothpaste. The American Dental Association recommends the following when brushing your young children’s teeth:
- Three and Younger: As soon as teeth begin to erupt, use a smear of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice.
- Three to Six Years: Use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
- Older Than Six: Children should be able to brush their teeth unsupervised with a slightly larger amount of toothpaste, but use your own discretion.
Make an Appointment With Fox Kids Dentistry and Orthodontics for More Info
At Fox Kids Dentistry & Orthodontics, our specialty is pediatric dentistry. We understand parents have tons of questions about what’s best for their child’s oral health. That’s why in addition to providing dental care for your kids, we’re available to answer questions or concerns you may have. Contact us today to make an appointment.