Toothpaste… Kid’s ammo versus Sugar-Boogers!!!

10 Jan
A guest post from:
Seth Ardoin, DDS
Board Certified Pediatric Dentist
In the last 30 years, there has been a colossal shift in the attitudes and perceptions of oral
health care for children in the United States amongst the general public, physicians, and dentists.
The general public’s attitude thirty years ago towards baby teeth were along the lines of, “the baby teeth are going to fall out, so how important can they be?” Thirty years ago, physician’s
recommended that parents take their child to the dentist when they turn 5 years old. When kids were seen by the dentist, most children were seen by the families’ general dentist. 
Unfortunately, the education provided by dental schools and the dental community in the field of pediatric dentistry was minimal, at best. Therefore, the attitude of the general dentist, thirty years ago, was to bring the child in when they were 5 years old and if any teeth were infected or hurting they would simply pull them! If nothing was hurting, grab a sucker on your way out, and we will see you next year.
Thankfully, today, the research and literature has piled up and it is common knowledge that
an important part of your child’s overall health is the health of his or her teeth. In order to prevent dental problems, your child should be seen by a pediatric dentist no later than their first birthday, to establish a dental home. Pediatric dentists are the pediatricians of dentistry. 
A pediatric dentist has two to three years of specialty training following dental school and limits their practice to treating children only.
During the first dental visit your child will get a tour of the dental office, an age appropriate
cleaning and dental exam, a ton of stickers, a toy, and most importantly, a great first impression and introduction to the world of dental health.
What most people fail to realize is that your child’s first dental home visit is as much for the
parents as it is the child. The parents should be given “anticipatory guidance” for their child’s oral health and oral health care needs. These helpful tips are not only for today but also for the future.
This anticipatory guidance includes information on a proper dental diet, trauma prevention and trauma education, fluoride information, pacifier and thumb habit recommendations, oral hygiene instruction, and growth and development guidance, to name a few.
Here is some anticipatory guidance for toothpaste… let’s talk toothpaste!!!
When do we start with oral hygiene?
 The sooner the better!!! Before your child has any teeth, clean your child’s gums with a disposable finger-wrap babies gum cleaner or a moist, clean, warm washcloth. Clean the gums and the tongue after bottle feeding or breastfeeding. This helps prevent bacterial and fungal build up in your infant’s mouth.
Helpful hint… If you choose to use the washcloth, be sure to use the washcloth for just one day, use a clean washcloth the next day. Don’t throw the washcloth in the corner of the bathroom, pick it up again tomorrow, and use it for a month straight.
When do we start brushing our child’s teeth?
As soon as the teeth begin to appear, start brushing twice daily using children’s fluoridated toothpaste (be sure the toothpaste has the ADA stamp on it) and a soft, age-appropriate sized
toothbrush. Don’t only brush the teeth, but also the gums and tongue. This insures that we are removing as much bacteria as possible. If your child is acting like brushing their teeth is the end of the world, ask your pediatric dentist to demonstrate the proper knee-to-knee technique to effectively brush your child’s teeth. Remember parents, kids need to understand how important brushing is (even if they throw a fit) we are going to brush our teeth every day, two times a day. I often compare this to changing your baby’s diaper. They might cry and make a scene while you are changing that dirty diaper, but as the adult we know it is in the best interest of the baby (and our noses) to have a clean booty! Same with teeth… we don’t want sugar-boogers creeping on our teeth.
 Which toothpaste do we use?
Children’s toothpaste comes in many different flavors, brands, colors, smells, and has every Disney characters imaginable on the front of the tube. Your child is much more likely to use the toothpaste if they like the cartoon character and taste, so it is important to take that into account. However, what the parents need to look for when picking a children’s toothpaste are two things.
●First, parents need to buy toothpaste that has the ADA (American Dental Association)
stamp of approval on the tube.
●Second, it needs to have fluoride in it, even if it is a lower dose of fluoride, be sure it has
fluoride in it!!
What is Fluoride?
The fluoride in toothpaste helps to prevent tooth decay and cavities in two ways:
●First, it prevents the bacteria in plaque from forming acids that erode the tooth enamel and
cause decay.
●Second, in areas of the teeth that have already been damaged by acids, fluoride builds up in the weakened areas and begins to strengthen, or remineralize, the teeth.
How much fluoridated toothpaste does my child need?
This is the most important part of toothpaste discussion!!!!!!!!!!! Fluoridated toothpaste, used
correctly, is one of the most effective tools for preventing cavities.
So what exactly is the safe/proper amount of toothpaste?
A picture is worth a thousand words!!
• (see diagram LEFT) Children under the age of 2 – Use a ‘smear’ of fluoridated toothpaste.
Kids in this age range are going to swallow the toothpaste after they brush; however, a ‘smear’ amount of toothpaste ONLY two times a day will not have any harmful systemic effects on your child. In fact, the only effect the fluoride will have is the topical, positive anti-cavity fighting properties, which will help your child’s teeth stay cavity free.
• (see diagram RIGHT) Children aged 2 to 5 years old- Use a ‘pea-sized’ amount of
toothpaste. Kids in this age range are usually very independent and want to brush their teeth on their own. They are learning to spit and have gotten pretty good at it; however, not all of the fluoridated toothpaste will find the bottom of the sink. Parents must monitor the use of fluoridated toothpaste. Remember, a ‘pea-sized’ amount of toothpaste ONLY two times a day will not have any harmful systemic effects on your child. In fact, the only effect the fluoride will have is the topical, positive anti-cavity fighting properties, which will help your child’s teeth stay cavity free.
Once your child can effectively spit the entirety of the fluoridated toothpaste out, that’s
when we can switch to adult toothpaste and place the adult amount of toothpaste on their brush.
Remember, brushing your child’s teeth is a very important part of parenting, and you need to start at a young age. By taking the time each day – in the morning after breakfast and before bedtime – to clean your child’s teeth with children’s fluoridated toothpaste, you will be helping to create a lifetime of healthy dental habits and a happy, healthy smile.

Dr. Seth’s Toothpaste Tips

  1. Keep the toothpaste out of reach of children under 6. (See Safety Toothpaste Tip)
  2. Safety Toothpaste Tip: What do you do if you walk in and little Timmy has eaten the entire tube of toothpaste?  
    1. If Tim is unconscious, call 911 immediately.
    2. If Timmy is conscious, give him a glass of milk and call your pediatrician right away. The calcium in the milk will bind the fluoride in Timmy’s tummy and help decrease the toxicity of the fluoride. Be sure to call your pediatrician or get your child to the emergency room as soon as possible.
    3. The FDA doesn’t allow companies to sell a single tube of toothpaste that contains a lethal dose of Fluoride to be sold to the public, simply because of this scenario. So, hopefully Timmy doesn’t go on a toothpaste consuming binge before he is caught, and he only gets a toxic dose. A toxic dose will cause nausea, sweating, ringing of the ears, and blurred or double vision.
  3. If your kiddo loves to walk around all day and brush their teeth that is wonderful, however, remember they ONLY get toothpaste Two Times a Day! Also, be sure they aren’t running with the toothbrush in their mouth… I have seen self-inflicted toothbrush wounds and it’s not fun for anyone!
  4. As the parent, you need to supervise and help your child brush their teeth until you trust them to use the stove and not burn down the house. There is no set age when your child can start effectively brushing their teeth on their own. You and your pediatric dentist will need to determine this on a case by case basis. You must remember that the parent needs to apply the proper amount of toothpaste (smear or pea size) to the toothbrush. Don’t let little Susie cover her toothbrush with toothpaste.
  5. When your child is sick:  Once they brush their teeth with their toothbrush, the toothbrush has become contaminated. Be sure to throw away the toothbrush when they return to health. We don’t want them to use the same contaminated toothbrush to self-inoculate themselves and continue to get sick.
    1. Also, be sure NOT to have the contaminated toothbrush touch the tube of toothpaste directly. This will contaminate the tube of toothpaste!!! This is especially important if other siblings are using that tube of toothpaste.  Instead, the parent (who is monitoring the amount of toothpaste being used) should use a Q-tip or their finger on the tube of toothpaste and then deliver it to the toothbrush.  Be sure to wash your hands after.

One Response to “Toothpaste… Kid’s ammo versus Sugar-Boogers!!!”

  1. Conny Millette January 20, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    Thank you for this post, I always brought back plenty of toothpaste back from Germany LOL as I never knew which one to trust, but with you clearifying this for me I am very thankful.

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