Why Do Kids Need To Use Low-Fluoride Toothpastes?
Fluoride, a natural mineral, is an essential part of our daily oral health routine and is important in dentistry. Its role is to strengthen tooth enamel which, in turn, helps to prevent tooth decay. The use of fluoride in Australia is supported by all public health and dental authorities.
Most capital cities in Australia have ideal amounts of fluoride added to their tap water. In areas of the country where fluoride occurs naturally in the water, extra is not added. It is important to note, however, that both bottled water and some filtered water (e.g. home filters) do not contain enough fluoride to fortify teeth against tooth decay.
As well as teeth being exposed to fluoride in drinking water, it is also important to use a fluoridated toothpaste when brushing in order to strengthen the tooth enamel. In children, however, special care must be taken to limit the amount of toothpaste used so that they are not over-exposed to fluoride. Over-exposure while the teeth are still forming can result in a condition called dental fluorosis.
About Dental Fluorosis
This condition varies from very thin, almost invisible, white patches or lines over the tooth surface to significant areas of brown staining and/or pitted enamel defects.
Therefore, it is important for children to use toothpaste with a fluoride content that is appropriate for their age. In Australia, there are various low-fluoride toothpastes available specifically for children. Here are some ways to prevent dental fluorosis:
- Choose a low-fluoride toothpaste for children younger than six years.
- Apply a pea-sized amount to the toothbrush and smear it into the bristles.
- Encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste after brushing.
- Store all toothpastes out of your child’s reach. Some small children love the taste of toothpaste and will eat it if given the chance.
- If your child’s permanent teeth have erupted with a mottled appearance, your dentist can suggest treatment to improve their appearance.
Fluoride And The Canberra Experience
If the water supply is fluoridated at the appropriate levels (which it is here in Canberra), the Australian Dental Association recommends the following guidelines for the use of toothpaste with children:
- Eruption of first tooth to 17 months – teeth to be cleaned without toothpaste.
- From 18 months to 5 years – twice daily cleaning using a small, pea-sized amount of child-strength toothpaste.
- From 6 years onwards – twice daily cleaning with adult-strength toothpaste.
You can read more about the ADA guidelines here.
Children need to be using the correct type and amount of toothpaste for their age. They also need to be discouraged from swallowing fluoridated toothpaste where possible. You can ask any of our friendly staff here at CDG about the types of toothpastes available for children. We’re only too happy to help.