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When Should We Begin Using Toothpaste?

Toothpaste plays a crucial role in maintaining your overall oral health. It’s something we all know by instinct. For most people, learning how to brush their teeth with toothpaste is perhaps the earliest memory they have of their oral health journey. However, they might remember it at varying ages. That said, when should we begin using toothpaste? And how much should we use?

It’s no surprise if the first brushing session is what people remember the most. Others may look back at when their parents used to brush their teeth, while others still recall the uncomfortable teething age. But learning how to clean on your own is its own unique experience. Often you might remember having your tube of toothpaste to brush with, and a brush designed for your needs. 

And there’s a reason for that, too—at a certain age, a child’s fluoride requirements are way lower than an adult’s. The toothpaste they use, then, needs less of it than your standard commercial toothpaste. This requirement, however, changes depending on what stage of growth they’re at.

So how do we know when should we begin using toothpaste, or how much should we use? 

You can start using toothpaste at 18 months of age

Newborns and children in the early stages of infancy don’t need fluoride as much. Fluoride usually works with other minerals to strengthen your teeth’s defenses. That said, there seems to be little need for fluoride in infants or children without teeth. 

At 18 months of age, however, children typically have all their teeth. This fact makes the need for fluoride all the more necessary. It’s also at this age where they begin to develop the fine motor skills needed for toothbrushing. Some kids, however, may still not have the control necessary for this movement at that stage. It’s up to the parents, then, to apply the toothpaste as the children grow.

If the teeth develop earlier, you may opt to add toothpaste to their regimen. Even if they aren’t 18 months old yet. But how much toothpaste do you need to use?

Use a smear of toothpaste when they’re younger and a pea-sized amount as they grow

It depends. Before teething, you only need to maintain the cleanliness of your child’s gums. At this age, they don’t need toothpaste. However, once the first teeth buds begin to develop, it might be time to start talking about toothpaste use.

For the first few emergent teeth, professionals recommend that you add a small smear of toothpaste. Make sure that it is enough to thinly veil the teeth, as too much might give your child fluorosis. Make sure you teach your child to spit out the toothpaste after. But do not rinse their mouth with water. Doing so will significantly reduce the fluoride left on their teeth.

When they are three years old, their teeth are usually developed enough to graduate to higher levels of fluoride. At this age, you no longer need to buy special low-fluoride toothpaste for the young ones. Instead, make sure that they only use a pea-sized amount when they brush to regulate the fluoride content. Once they’re a bit older, they can add more toothpaste to their teeth. 

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