Do children toothpastes need fluoride, and is it safe?
Many parents with young children, especially first-time parents, may wonder if there is a risk in using fluoride toothpastes for their children. Is fluoride really harmful, and why do some children’s toothpastes contain fluoride?
What is fluoride and what does it do?
Fluoride – which is a natural mineral which exists in natural sources such as water, air and soil – is commonly found in adult toothpastes and is well-known in preventing tooth decay. But did you know that fluoride toothpastes are equally effective in protecting your child’s precious milk teeth?
As recommended by World Health Organisation (WHO), fluoride content in children’s toothpastes should be between 1,000 and 1,500 ppm for effective prevention against tooth decay.
Numerous studies have proven that young children benefit from using fluoride toothpastes because they:
- prevent and reverse early tooth decay
- strengthen tooth enamel
- limit the growth of bacteria
- slow the loss of minerals from tooth enamel
Therefore, as soon as your child’s first teeth erupts, you should incorporate fluoride toothpastes in your child’s oral care routine. The amount of toothpaste applied depends on your child’s age.
How much fluoride toothpaste should you apply for your child each time?
During brushing, the recommended amounts of toothpaste are:
- For children between 1 and 3 years old, apply a rice grain size amount
- For children more than 3 years old, apply a pea-sized amount
What happens if your child swallows too much fluoride?
Excessive fluoride ingestion could be caused by various factors such as using a toothpaste with more than 1,500ppm fluoride concentration, inability to spit, using more than the recommended amount of toothpaste. In some cases, the child may suffer from fluorosis which is the discolouration of the teeth enamel. While fluorosis is not life-threatening, it may affect the child’s self-esteem. In severe cases, the child may even experience stomach upset and is advised to consult a doctor immediately.
Hence it is recommended to always supervise your child when brushing so that you’ll know exactly how much toothpaste is applied each time.
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