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Toddlers Should use Fluoride Toothpaste, American Dental Association Reports

Update Date: Feb 13, 2014 03:02 PM EST

According to the American Dental Association, preventing tooth decay can start a lot earlier than previously recommended. Old guidelines advised parents to wait until their children turned two before introducing them to fluoride toothpaste. Now, the association has recommended all parents to start using fluoride toothpaste on children younger than two.

The updated guidelines stated that it is safe to use a rice-grain sized amount of fluoride toothpaste for young toddlers starting at 12 to 14-months. Parents should only apply a smear of the toothpaste and teach their children to remember to always spit out excess paste when they are brushing their teeth. For children aged three to six, parents can start to use more toothpaste in the size of a pea-blob. The association reminded parents that children should learn to brush their teeth twice a day.

The changes were made after the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, which is a much smaller group, reported that protecting children from teeth decay at an earlier age is vital. Based on the findings from a scientific review of 17 studies, the researchers concluded that fluoride toothpaste is effective in controlling tooth decay. The researchers stated that using small amounts of fluoride could prevent cavities and reduce the risk of fluorosis. Fluorosis is discoloration noticeable in teeth that are exposed to too much fluoride.

These new guidelines could potentially improve children's dental health. The chair of the American Dental Association's Council on Scientific Affairs, Edmond L. Truelove, stated that roughly one-quarter of American children develop cavities before they reach kindergarten.

"We want to minimize the amount of fluoride consumption to reduce the risk of fluorosis while simultaneously adding a preventive tool for kids 2 and under that we haven't recommended previously," said Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, a spokesman for the A.D.A. and a pediatric dentist in Augusta, ME reported by the New York Times. "By starting earlier, we can effectively reduce a lifetime of disease for a lot of kids."

The new guidelines were updated in the February issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

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