There are different kinds of toothpaste in the supermarkets nowadays. The first question in every mother’s mind is: What toothpaste should my children use? Firstly it should be clinically tested and proven and secondly it should contain fluoride.
Fluoride toothpaste has been proven to greatly improve the health of our teeth: it strengthens the enamel of the tooth making it stronger and more resilient to dental decay. So you might be asking: Can fluoride really do that? The answer is yes! When our tooth is under acid attack after eating food containing sugar the harder layer called enamel starts to erode (demineralisation); fluoride can prevent that from happening. When the teeth in our mouth have already suffered such attacks fluoride can strengthen the areas of the enamel that have been damaged during demineralisation in turn starting the process of remineralisation.
As we grow the quality of our teeth changes. Children’s teeth (deciduous teeth) have softer enamel which is why it is more important to ensure that they maintain a healthy oral hygiene as they are more susceptible to dental caries. The dental health organisation suggested that children up to 3 years of age should use toothpaste containing 1000ppm (parts per million) of fluoride. Children over 3 years old until they become adults should use toothpaste containing 1350ppm to 1500ppm of fluoride.
Why should younger children have a lower dose of fluoride? Children around that age are still learning a lot of things, one of those is how to spit. Before they learn to spit they unintentionally end up ingesting the toothpaste with fluoride. While this is ok and acceptable because the fluoride ingested can be incorporated into the developing permanent teeth underneath making them stronger, too much ingested fluoride could be detrimental to the health of their teeth.
As they say “too much of anything is not good for you”, too much fluoride can lead to dental fluorosis.
Teeth affected by dental fluorosis present with mild discolouration of the enamel, yellow or dark brown stains, speak or streaks.
During the early age of childhood parents should be cautious about the amount of toothpaste they give to their children keeping in mind that at their age they are not so capable of spitting. Check the toothpaste to ensure that the dosage is adequate for your needs and your family’s needs. And lastly, routinely visit your dentist for advice on what, when and how much toothpaste to use in some cases higher fluoride concentration may be indicated and your dentist will be able to identify this.