How much toothpaste should you be using for your kids? To help prevent children’s tooth decay, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends using fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth comes in. Caregivers should use a smear of fluoride toothpaste (or an amount about the size of a grain of rice) for children younger than 3 years old and a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste for children 3 to 6 years old.
The ADA previously recommended using water to brush the teeth of children under two. They have changed their recommendation based on a review of scientific evidence. For half a century, the ADA has recommended that patients use fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities, and a review of scientific research shows that this holds true for all ages. The new guidance is intended to provide children with the full benefit of cavity protection while limiting their risk of developing fluorosis, which is a mild discoloration of teeth usually appearing as faint lines. Children should spit out toothpaste as soon as they are old enough to do so.
To fully prevent tooth decay, the ADA also encourages caregivers to take their child to the dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than the child’s first birthday. Happy brushing!