Your child just had their first tooth. It is time to celebrate! And, also to introduce the baby toothpaste.
You may question, isn’t it too soon?
In fact, oral care for an infant starts even before they have their first tooth.
That is when the parents wipe off their gums to avoid sugars from milk lingering there.
However, there are certain considerations to keep in mind while you are selecting toothpaste for your little one.
Don’t worry! This article will help you solve all of these queries.
Keep reading below to know all about the toothpaste that will start your child’s oral care journey.
When Should Children Start Brushing?
Oral care begins when your child only has gums and you wipe off the excess sugars.
Things were easy back then, all you had to do was use a damp washcloth and quickly wipe off their gums.
This begins immediately a few days after their birth when they have started feeding on milk containing sugars.
However, the eruption of the first baby tooth changes oral care.
Now you will also have to brush your child’s teeth.
The habit of brushing teeth and flossing is better instilled in kids young.
Though they are too young to floss, when their first tooth appears, parents and guardians can start to brush their teeth gently.
One important question arises regarding this:
Do babies really need to brush with toothpaste?
Well, some dentists may say that the physical motion of the brushing is more important than the polishing agent you use in the form of toothpaste, others may disagree saying that toothpaste is absolutely necessary.
While the brushing action removes bacteria biofilm and also prevents plaque, the toothpaste can protect from the risk of decay and cavities in kids.
Since cavities are one of the most chronic childhood conditions, using toothpaste can help remove the plaque properly leaving fewer bacteria inside the mouth for cavities to develop.
In fact, the American Dental Association recommends brushing with fluoride as soon as the first tooth erupts when they are usually around 6 months old.
However, you should not be brushed with the same toothpaste that adults use.
Children’s toothpaste has milder ingredients that can prevent certain dental problems.
Now that you know that your child certainly needs to brush with toothpaste, let’s talk about why their toothpaste should be different than yours.
What To Avoid in a Baby Toothpaste?
You may be tempted to use the same toothpaste as yours, however, those for adults contain whiteners, brighteners and other ingredients that are not suitable for kids.
What’s concerning, is that babies do not have the ability to spit at that time.
Their reflex to spit is still not developed.
Hence, they will ingest whatever ingredients and chemicals are present in the toothpaste.
So babies should certainly not brush with the same toothpaste as their parents.
Do not fall for marketing strategies that claim to be all-natural pastes, rather lookout for these ingredients and avoid them at all costs:
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a strong detergent that kids should not ingest.
Moreover, it causes canker sores.
It is a harsh detergent that a baby should not be exposed to, protecting their delicate oral environment.
Abrasives are harsh, thus you should avoid giving any such ingredient to your child.
These are usually present in toothpaste meant for adults.
Whitening and brightening agents are the abrasive ingredients in certain whitening toothpaste.
These harsh ingredients can end up damaging the enamel and making their teeth more prone to cavities and decay.
Natural toothpaste contains essential oils as an antibacterial agent to get rid of plaque.
This doesn’t sound problematic, right? But it is!
Babies are developing their oral microbiome.
They come in handy to prevent cavities.
Killing the good bacteria along with the bad will not help your child’s oral environment.
Parents may want to make a DIY toothpaste for kids in order to not fall into all of this fuss.
It could be a hit or miss.
However, if you do make it, choose ingredients that are not bactericidal like anise and without essential oils.
There are also ingredients that you should include.
What Should be in a Baby Toothpaste?
It should be Safe to Swallow
Children this young cannot spit.
Hence, as much as you clean their mouth, there is a chance they may still end up swallowing the toothpaste.
While many baby toothpaste will be manufactured keeping this in mind, just ensure it does not contain any harmful ingredients.
When it does not contain any of the harmful ingredients, it does not matter if your child swallows it.
ADA Seal of Approval
Like every other dental product, if the toothpaste also has a seal of approval from ADA or your local credible dental association then you can think that it is safe to use.
It gives the guarantee that the product is credible and will not harm your child.
Rather it is safe to include in your baby’s dental care.
Usually, you will not find baby toothpaste with intense flavors such as mint.
That is more common for adults but can be way too stringer for kids this young.
Toothpaste for kids is designed to have gentler flavors.
This is why they usually taste like fruits.
Hence, if you go ahead and choose one make sure that it fits your child’s tastes.
Another ingredient found in kids’ toothpaste is fluoride.
Some may consider it important while there are certain dentists who recommend you to avoid it together.
Therefore, it is not present in all toothpaste for kids.
Let’s find out why below!
Should You Choose a Fluoride Toothpaste?
The verdict on using a fluoride toothpaste for babies differs across dentists.
Some dentists recommend that you should not use it at all for kids.
This is because it can lead to dental fluorosis as well as a neurotoxin.
Fluoride can be toxic if swallowed by kids this young.
It can be especially toxic for the brain that is yet in developmental stages.
Plus, there is also the risk of fluorosis whereby the teeth can have white specks, spots, lines or even yellow or brown lines.
You may think that it is only a small amount equivalent to a rice grain, so how much harm can it pose?
Well, are you sure this is the only way your child is getting fluoride?
If you choose to give your child fluoride toothpaste, keep a check on what other sources in their consumption contain fluoride.
This way you can keep a track of how much fluoride they are consuming.
After all, it is not simply present in tap water but also in cereals, infant formula, fish and seafood, bottled water and surprisingly Teflon pans that you use for cooking.
It is present in way too many things to keep track of.
In fact, children may get fluorosis without using fluoride toothpaste.
Therefore, if you want to add another fluoride product to their oral care, make sure you know where else are they consuming fluoride in case you are already not giving them an excess of it.
On the other hand, dental associations like the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics tell people to use fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first baby tooth appears.
Though the amount should not be bigger than a grain of rice.
It can be a preventive measure against cavities.
Consult your dentist whether your child should use it or not.
How to Use Baby Toothpaste?
Only use a small smear of the toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice.
The small quantity is to prevent any harmful effects from swallowing the toothpaste which will inevitably happen as your child does not know how to spit yet.
When they are 3 years old, they can start spitting.
That is when you can increase the amount to a pea-sized drop of toothpaste.
Do not panic if your child swallows the little amount.
It will not cause any harm.
Like adults, brushing is necessary for your child’s teeth too.
Do not think that their milk teeth will eventually fall out so what’s the use brushing them.
In fact, if these teeth get cavities, then their permanent teeth will not grow properly in place.
After all, the baby teeth hold space for the permanent ones.
Caring for them is equally important.
So brush them properly daily before the plaque turns to calculus.
The plaque can harden every 48 hours to become tartar.
That is harder to remove only using a brush.
Hence, start using the brush and toothpaste to get rid of plaque daily after your child eats and drinks.
You can use toothpaste like:
- Orajel Fluoride Free Training Toothpaste
- Burt’s Bees for Kids Fluoride Toothpaste
- Jack N Jill Natural Toothpaste
- Dr Brown’s Natural Baby Toothpaste or Toddler Set
Make brushing fun for your kids and make it a regular fun activity.
Plus, never brush them while they are lying down as it can result in a gag reflex.
Start on brushing using a baby toothpaste as soon as your child has their first tooth.
Whether the toothpaste should contain fluoride or not, consult your dentist about their opinion.