When Should You Incorporate Fluoridated Toothpaste into Your Child’s Oral Health Routine?

Fluoride is helpful in preventing tooth decay, but when is a child ready to use fluoride toothpaste, and what are the risks involved? A dentist can help you assess your child’s risk of tooth decay and advise you on when and how your child should start using fluoridated toothpaste in addition to other matters of child dental care.

Why Is Fluoride Important?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps reduce the occurrence of cavities and tooth decay. It works by rebuilding minerals on the tooth’s surface to keep it strong and solid. Fluoride is in most kinds of toothpaste and is added to some drinking water supplies in an effort to cut down on tooth decay.  The tap water in Vancouver does not contain fluoride.  

Does Fluoride Pose Any Risks?

While fluoride is widely used as a beneficial tool to lessen the occurrence of tooth decay, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Dental fluorosis is a condition that changes the appearance of the tooth’s enamel. Dental fluorosis is caused by ingesting too much fluoride in early childhood when the teeth are still developing beneath the gums. You cannot develop dental fluorosis as an adult. The Canadian Health Measures Survey found in 2007-2009 that only 16% of children were affected by fluorosis, and those were in its mild form. Mild dental fluorosis is considered cosmetic and often goes unnoticed by parents and children alike.

Should My Child Be Using Fluoridated Toothpaste?

For children aged 0-3, consult with a dentist to determine if your child is at high risk of developing tooth decay. If a dentist finds your child to be a high risk, you should brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a grain-of-rice-sized amount of toothpaste. Because children in this age group often cannot spit yet, assist your child while brushing to ensure the correct amount of toothpaste is used.

Children aged 3-6 years should be supervised while using a pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste. Once older than six years, most children have developed the ability to spit and brush correctly.


A dental professional at Atlantis Dental Roundhouse can help you assess your child’s dental care needs and establish an appropriate brushing routine.