Toothpaste: when should kids begin using it and how much should be used?

Baby teeth are at risk for decay as soon as they first appear which is typically around six months. The good news is that tooth decay is preventable! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft, infant toothbrush or cloth and water.

When your child’s teeth begin to come in, brush baby teeth twice a day with a child-size
toothbrush and “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

For 2 to 5-year-olds, dispense no more than a “pea-size” amount of fluoridated toothpaste and help your child brush. Remember that young children do not have the coordination to brush their teeth effectively. Children should spit out and not swallow excess toothpaste after brushing.

Comparison of a smear (left) with a pea-sized (right) amount of toothpaste.

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