Choosing The Best Toothpaste For Your Child
Is fluoride good or bad?
By Dr Nik Fatihah, Global Dental Mont Kiara
With so many different types of children’s toothpaste in the market; organic, fluoride-free, natural, herbal, it’s so difficult to pick one that would be the best for your child. How do you choose, which one works best?
WHEN SHOULD YOUR CHILD START BRUSHING THEIR TEETH?
Oral hygiene care starts even before the first tooth makes an appearance on your little one’s gum. As soon as your infant is born and starts nursing, you can wipe down their gums and tongue with a soft washcloth or a moistened gauze to remove any milk residue, preventing bacteria in the mouth. The first tooth usually cuts through the gums as early as six months to a year. You can then start brushing twice daily with a soft, infant-sized toothbrush.
WHY FLUORIDE TOOTHPASTE, IS IT SAFE?
Fluoride is a natural occurring mineral found in water, soil and air. It is added to toothpaste to help:
- Prevent cavities.
- Strengthen tooth enamel.
- Reverse early tooth decay.
- Limit the growth of oral bacteria.
- Slows down the loss of minerals from the tooth enamel.
Oral hygiene care starts even before the first tooth makes an appearance on your little one’s gum. As soon as your infant is born and starts nursing, you can wipe down their gums and tongue with a soft washcloth or a moistened gauze to remove any milk residue, preventing bacteria in the mouth.
Fluoride, in the correct dose, is absolutely safe for your child. The flavored toothpaste in the market usually contains a low dosage of fluoride (500ppm), which is within the safe limit for kids. An adult toothpaste usually contains about 1450ppm fluoride.
DID YOU KNOW…
The first stage of teeth development starts in the fetus at about 6 weeks of age. Good nutrition from the mother during pregnancy is important in the development of the teeth. The mother’s diet should have adequate amounts of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, and vitamin D.
HOW MUCH TOOTHPASTE SHOULD I USE?
The American Dental Association (ADA), recommends the use of a smear fluoride toothpaste, about the size of a grain, as soon as the tooth erupts and then a pea-sized dollop for when they turn 3.
SHOULD I WORRY IF MY CHILD SWALLOWS THE TOOTHPASTE?
Kids develop the ability to spit around the age of 3. For the younger child, it is safe to use fluoride containing toothpaste even though they are not able to spit but only if you are using the recommended amount of children’s toothpaste for your child’s age, as well as supervising their brushing to prevent unnecessary swallowing. A child tends to swallow toothpaste due to its flavour. Thus, parents may want to be extra cautious when using flavoured toothpaste.
Too much fluoride can affect the developing permanent teeth causing white lines or spots to appear. This is called Dental Fluorosis. Severity may vary from white lines or streaks to pitted brown tooth surfaces.
Your child should brush his or her teeth for about two minutes, twice a day. Sing along the ABC song three times or get a cute timer to make tooth brushing fun with your child.
CAN’T I JUST USE A FLUORIDE-FREE TOOTHPASTE?
Toothpastes that do not contain ANY fluoride are generally not recommended for it lacks the ability to strengthen the enamel and fight cavities. However, using such toothpaste does not mean that decay will occur but the risk of decay is expected to be higher.
ARE THERE ANY FLUORIDE ALTERNATIVES?
Nano Hydroxyapatite (nHAp) is showing up in toothpastes as an alternative to fluoride. Hydroxyapatite (HA) is one of the building blocks that makes up your teeth enamel and dentin. It is non-toxic and biocompatible. Based on a previous study from the Journey of Contemporary Dental Practices, it concluded: “Nano-HAp is a favoured alternative to fluoride specifically for patients requiring a lower fluoride concentration – such as children, pregnant women, or those at high risk of dental fluorosis.”
But nHAp is more expensive and requires a higher concentration to ensure effectiveness compared to fluoride.
Did you know that the water we drink contains fluoride too? Water fluoridation in Malaysia is done as a public health measure to prevent dental caries.