Children are not just little versions of adults, up to the age of 12 years old their teeth are undergoing lots of changes and need special care! The Australian guidelines for cleaning of teeth recommend that:
- Up to 18 months (once teeth erupted) cleaned with a small toothbrush without toothpaste
- 18 months-5 years old: cleaned twice a day with children’s toothpaste
- 6+ years: cleaned twice a day with standard adult toothpaste
So why do we need a different toothpaste for children? This is for two reasons:
Lower fluoride concentration
Excessively high concentrations of fluoride can lead to white patches forming on the teeth (known as fluorosis). The mild form is relatively common and appears as white horizontal or patches on the teeth, this is nothing to worry about as it does not affect health of the teeth. The more severe form appears as ditches on the tooth surface and can pick up intense brown staining (In these cases it is best to see us to assess and discuss the management options). For this reason, children’s toothpaste typically contain half the fluoride concentration of adult toothpaste. Only small pea size amount of toothpaste should be used.
However, lower fluoride concentrations also means there is less of a protective effect. Regular adult strength toothpaste (i.e. 1000 parts per million fluoride or more) is recommended for most children over 6 years old as the adult teeth would have erupted.
Adult toothpaste have a nice refreshing minty taste, but can often be too “spicy” for children! Children’s toothpaste are specially formulated to have a milder flavour. But as we have mentioned above, children’s toothpaste have less fluoride and so are less protective. So what should you do when your child should be using adult toothpaste but finds it too spicy?
One suggestion is to consider mixing a small amount of the adult toothpaste with the children’s toothpaste to mask the flavour, and slowly increasing the