The American Dental Association (ADA) has released a new recommendation for fluoride use in children younger than two years of age. While the existing recommendation of using a pea-sized amount after the age of two is still reinforced, it is now recommended to start with “only the tiniest amount of fluoride toothpaste” as soon as their teeth start erupting. The goal is that we use just enough to help prevent cavities in primary teeth, without the negative effects of swallowing too much fluoride. It has been shown that early childhood decay is an indicator towards adult decay levels.
How much is enough? By their article, it appears that just a partial smear across the toothbrush is enough. One other important thing to note, is that parents should be helping their children brush until they develop the dexterity to brush themselves. Encourage your child to spit after brushing early on so that they do not swallow too much toothpaste. When you initially start brushing with them, only use water and have them practice spitting that out first, then move onto toothpaste.
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*Image from ADA and NY Times