For years, parents have been advised to only use water to brush their toddler's teeth. Due to a rising number of cases in childhood tooth decay, however, the American Dental Association (ADA) has made significant changes to its guidelines. The organization now recommends that children begin using toothpaste with fluoride as soon as their first tooth emerges.
"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," Dr. Edmond Truelove, an ADA spokesperson, said in a press release. "Approximately 25 percent of children have or had cavities before entering kindergarten, so it's important to provide guidance to caregivers on the appropriate use of fluoride toothpaste to help prevent their children from developing cavities."
According to the new guidelines, parents should use a grain of rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste for children under the age of three. For kids three to six, a pea-sized dab is recommended. The ADA says that the updated policy is intended to prevent cavities and fluorosis, a mild discoloration of the teeth. This advice is in line with a previous recommendation set forth by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.
Maintaining your child's oral health not only includes regular brushing and flossing, but also regular visits to dental professionals. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends that children have their first orthodontic visit no later than age seven.