A quick and easy guide on fluoridated toothpaste…
Wondering how much fluoride we need in our toothpaste? Or perhaps you’re not sure when your little ones should start using fluoride toothpaste. Or maybe you’ve heard that it’s not good for them to swallow toothpaste.
Take a read of our quick and easy guide which hopefully explains some of the reasoning behind these Australian (science-backed) recommendations. And, remember, if you’re confused, give us a call!
The use of fluoride remains one of the best ways to help prevent dental caries. In basic terms, you can think of it as a sealant that protects our enamel. That’s why it’s in our tap water and why the Australian Dental Association suggests we clean our teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice daily.
If you’re ever confused about this subject, speak to your dental health professional. And, if you’d like to research the topic online, look out for government departments such as the Better Health Channel or the Australian Dental Association. Avoid bloggers or Instagram influencers.
- Babies up to the age of 18 months – should not use any form of fluoride toothpaste. Instead, a responsible adult should gently clean the teeth with a brush or cloth – with no toothpaste.
- Children aged between 18 months and five years – use a pea-sized amount of low-fluoride toothpaste (containing .40-.55 mg/g (400-550ppm) fluoride, twice daily. Encourage children to spit out their toothpaste and not swallow.
- Children residing in an area with non-fluoridated tap water or specific dental health issues may be recommended by their dentist to start with a stronger formulation of fluoride toothpaste to counteract the risk of caries. Professional advice is required.
- Children aged over six years – use a standard fluoride toothpaste containing 1 mg/g (1000 ppm) fluoride. Encourage children to spit out the toothpaste and not swallow.
- Teenagers, adults and the elderly – should use a standard fluoride toothpaste containing 1 mg/g (1000 ppm) fluoride twice daily. Suppose they are at increased risk of dental caries, for example, in an area with non-fluoridated water. In that case, their dentist may recommend additional fluoride measures such as stronger fluoride toothpaste or professional fluoride treatments.
Why should children spit out fluoride toothpaste?
Often, concerned parents ask why their children have to spit out fluoride toothpaste. After all, if it so safe, why do they need to spit it out? There are two reasons: dental fluorosis and gag reflexes.
Children are at risk of developing dental fluorosis from ingesting fluoridated toothpaste until they are around eight years of age. (Dental fluorosis is a harmless, cosmetic condition where small white spots or lines are noticeable of the teeth.) So they shouldn’t ingest too much of it.
Secondly, children have strong gag reflexes. If they brush their teeth with any toothpaste, they are likely to swallow some of it. That’s why the ADA suggest using only a pea-sized amount of low-dose fluoride toothpaste for children under the age of six.
Studies show that for children before the age of 18 to 24 months, using fluoride toothpaste does not provide any extra benefits in preventing caries later in childhood.