Here at Children’s Dental Center, we know that evaluating the many brands of toothpaste claiming to be best for children can be an overwhelming task. Selecting an appropriately sized toothbrush and a nourishing, cleansing brand of children’s toothpaste is important for maintaining excellent oral health. In addition to asking us for toothpaste suggestions, know that toothpaste with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance has been tested for its effectiveness and proper ingredients. When choosing a toothpaste for children one should consider avoiding harmful ingredients. You can begin using a smear of fluoridated toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush beginning at the age of one. You can use a wet washcloth to wipe off their teeth and gums. Once your child can expectorate (spit) the excess toothpaste, you can start using a small, pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. This developmental milestone usually occurs around age 2 or 3. Encourage your child not to swallow the fluoridated toothpaste, and do not force a flavor your child does not like. If your child does ingest tiny amounts of toothpaste, do not worry! This is perfectly normal and will cease with time and encouragement. Also, be sure to buy a soft bristled toothbrush and encourage good eating habits and maintain regular six-month pediatric dental visits. We have some interesting facts we have put together. Keep reading to find out more!
The Importance of Toothpaste and Brushing Primary Teeth
Our mouths are home to thousands of different species of bacteria. These bacteria colonize and form a film on our teeth, known as plaque. Plaque build up can lead to a multitude of oral health problems including tooth decay, halitosis (bad breath), and gingivitis (inflammation of your gums). By simply brushing their teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, your child can greatly reduce their risk of developing oral disease. The importance of maintaining the health of primary, aka baby teeth, is often understated. Primary teeth are essential for speech production, chewing, jaw development, and they also facilitate the proper alignment and spacing of permanent adult teeth. Brushing primary teeth prevents bad breath and tooth decay, and also removes the plaque bacteria associated with childhood periodontal disease.
Evolution of Toothpaste
Early toothpastes consisted of components such as ground iris flowers, sand, pulverized oyster shells or even brick! In the 1800s tooth powders made of baking soda and salt replaced the harsh homemade concoctions of earlier years. Today, we have everything from all natural toothpastes to ones specially formulated for sensitive teeth, to whitening toothpastes and bubblegum flavored varieties for children.
What Exactly is Toothpaste?
Toothpaste is an oral hygiene product that contains gentle abrasives, antibacterial agents, and most importantly fluoride. The gentle abrasives found in toothpastes help remove surface stains by gently polishing them away with the aid of a toothbrush. Antibacterial agents, such as triclosan, aid in reducing the bacterial levels in the mouth, thus preventing halitosis. Fluoride aids in strengthening the enamel of teeth.
Why Fluoride is so Important
Fluoride has been added to toothpaste since the late 1800s and has significantly reduced the rate of tooth decay over the years. Fluoride strengthens teeth by remineralizing the enamel found on the surface of teeth. Though most public water supplies are fluoridated, the water does not adequately provide protection against cavities therefore the need for fluoridated toothpaste still exists. Though all toothpastes are not created equal, most brands generally contain abrasive ingredients to remove stains, soapy ingredients to eliminate plaque, fluorides to strengthen tooth enamel, and some type of pleasant-tasting flavoring. The major differences between brands are the thickness of the paste, the level of fluoride content, and the type of flavoring. Although fluoride strengthens enamel and repels plaque bacteria, too much of it can actually harm young teeth – a condition known as dental fluorosis. Children between the ages of one and four years old are most at risk for this condition, so fluoride levels should be carefully monitored during this time.
Be aware that adult and non-ADA approved brands of toothpaste often contain harsher abrasives, which remove tooth enamel and weaken primary teeth.
Which Toothpaste Brand Should We Choose?
Parents and kids should try out a variety of toothpastes to find one with the look and feel that kids will like and use! Look for travel size options at your grocery store or pharmacy. We also have samples available at our office. Children’s Dental Center understands that it can be difficult to find the toothpaste that is just right for your child. We hope a consultation with us can help make this choice an easy one! The ADA logo should be clear and present on toothpaste packaging, so make sure to check for it.
Our team at Children’s Dental Center aspires to be recognized as the premier center for pediatric dentistry and orthodontics in Tennessee by providing the best dental experience and highest quality of care to our patients with integrity, compassion, and love. We care for your children as if they were our own. If you are in the Memphis area and have questions or concerns about choosing an appropriate brand of toothpaste for your child, stop by one of our three convenient offices or give us a call. Happy brushing!