Can Children Use Fluoride Toothpaste?

Find out what safe brushing techniques you can practice with your kids.

Can Children Use Fluoride Toothpaste?

According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s especially important for kids age three to six who use fluoride toothpastes to be careful when brushing their teeth. Seems many of the youngsters put globs of the cleanser on their brush, and that delivers excess fluoride that can harm and discolor teeth (dental fluorosis).

The CDC surveyed almost 1,700 children and found 38 percent of them used more than the recommended amount. That’s a pea-size dollop of toothpaste for kids three to six. Kids younger than age three should use only as much as the size of a grain of rice! And the CDC says no fluoride toothpaste for kids two or younger unless directed by your dentist.

The best advice:

  • For kids up to age two: Wipe gums with a soft, clean cloth in the morning after the first feeding and right before bed.
  • As teeth come in: Start brushing twice a day with a soft, small‑bristled toothbrush and plain water.
  • Supervise your kids up to age six while they apply the toothpaste to their brush and during brushing. Kids often swallow the toothpaste, which can cause fluoride overdosing.

Medically reviewed in September 2019.

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