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Features Health & Wellness New guidelines issued regarding fluoride toothpaste in children

To fight cavities in children, the North Carolina Dental Society (NCDS) is encouraging caregivers to brush their children’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth comes in.

This new guidance expands the use of fluoride toothpaste for young children. It follows the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Council on Scientific Affairs (CSA) recent recommendation that caregivers use a light smear of fluoride toothpaste (or an amount about the size of a grain of rice) for children younger than three years old and a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste for children three to six years old.

"For 50 years, dentists have recommended that patients use fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities,” says Dr. Ron Venezie, an Apex, N.C. pediodontist and president-elect of the NCDS. “A review of scientific research shows that this holds true for all ages, especially given the high levels of decay among young children.”

Dr. Venezie adds that “an estimated 37 percent of North Carolina children have been affected by tooth decay in their primary (baby) teeth by the time they enter kindergarten. That compares with about 25 percent nationally.” (Source: Report by the Oral Health Section, N.C. Division of Public Health, published in the N.C. Medical Journal, May 17, 2012)

Dental decay is the most common chronic childhood disease with more than 16 million children suffering from untreated tooth decay in the U.S, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Oral disease causes children to miss 51 million school hours and their parents to lose 25 million work hours annually.

Previously, the ADA recommended using water to brush the teeth of children younger than two years old and to brush the teeth of children two to six years old with a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste.

The report, "Fluoride toothpaste use for young children," and the results of the systematic review, "Fluoride toothpaste efficacy and safety in children younger than six years," are published in the February 2014 issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.

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 white lines or spots. Children should spit out toothpaste as soon as they are able.

“We also continue to encourage caregivers to take their child to the dentist when the first tooth appears or no later than the child’s first birthday,” says Dr. Venezie.

For additional information on fluoride toothpaste for children visit www.ADA.org or www.ncdental.org.


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