The American Dental Association is now telling parents that it’s okay to use fluoride toothpaste when the first tooth erupts. Older guidelines recommended that parents use only water or a toothpaste without fluoride until the age of two in order to limit the amount of fluoride young kids invariably swallow.  Kim Painter says the new guidelines permit the use of fluoride toothpaste from the start:

Instead, parents should use a rice-grain size smear on a child’s first teeth and move up to pea-size blobs once the child reaches age three, the group says in updated guidelines published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.


The new guidelines were prompted by studies showing that about 25% of children in the United States develop cavities before they start kindergarten:

A scientific review concluded that using small amounts of fluoride toothpaste would help prevent cavities while minimizing the risk of fluorosis – a discoloration that can occur when teeth are exposed to too much fluoride early in life.

To further minimize risk, children should be taught to spit out excess toothpaste as soon as possible, the ADA says.


You don’t need to use very much toothpaste — just enough for some taste and some bubbles.