Sometimes less is better — especially when it comes to young children and toothpaste with fluoride.
Health Canada, the Canadian Dental Association
and the Canadian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry
are now recommending children under the age of
three and at risk of tooth decay use far less fluoridat-
ed toothpaste: the size of a grain of rice, considerably
smaller than the green pea size that was previously
recommended. For children not at risk of tooth de-
cay, brushing with water is all that’s needed.
The three groups are also recommending parents
(adults) do the tooth brushing and gum cleaning for
children under the age of three.
Once their children are over the age of three and
have learned to spit, parents are encouraged to keep
helping their children brush their teeth and increase
fluoridated toothpaste to the size of a green pea.
Dr. Luke Shwart, the dental public health officer
for Alberta Health Services, says the changes reflect
concerns that young children were swallowing too
much fluoride, which can show up several years
later as dental fluorisis. Mild cases of dental fluorosis can cause white specks on teeth. More severe
cases cause pitting and brownish discolouration to
teeth enamel. The
lead to tooth
decay, but it can
affect a child’s
1,400 times more
fluoridated drinking water,” Shwart says. “And
kids’ toothpaste often tastes good, so kids swallow
it rather than spit it out.”
Shwart and AHS oral health staff are working to
let families across the province know about the new
recommendations. They’re also using the opportu-
nity to remind families about the importance of good
oral health in early childhood.
“Teeth are important to learning to speak, they
hold the permanent teeth in place and help avoid
braces later in life,” Shwart says. “And, of course,
toothaches, infections and cavities can be painful,
costly and disruptive to the entire family.”