Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bubbles and Bribery: The only two reasons to use baby toothpaste.

Baby toothpaste? You already know you should be brushing your infant's teeth. Should you also use a fluoride-free baby toothpaste?

Baby Gigi, 8 months, Toothbrush Enthusiast

For both adults and children, the only health-related reason to use toothpaste is to expose your teeth to fluoride, the agent known to prevent tooth decay. However, we now see fluoride-free baby toothpastes on the market. These products usually include glycerin, silica, flavoring, and a few other ingredients to create a thick consistency. Formulas will occasionally include Xylitol, a natural sweetener thought to have a small anti-cavity association. But all these ingredients are close to meaningless in the prevention of tooth decay.

So why use fluoride-free baby toothpaste?

Reason One: BUBBLES!
As a society, we equate bubbles with cleanliness. We don't believe our soap is working until we see that lather. The same goes for brushing your teeth-- you want to see the bubbles. Basic toothpaste formulations actually do not foam. It's true! The bubbles come from a foaming additive included in the paste to increase popularity. There is nothing wrong with this. If you like the bubbles, go for the baby toothpaste.

Reason Two: Bribery
Baby toothpaste is flavored like strawberry or fruit punch. If your infant is fighting the toothbrush, use the baby toothpaste to tempt her into opening up (pea-size amount, only). I am certain she will just swallow the paste, but this may give you the 20 seconds needed to get in there and brush the teeth.  This is parental bribery of the best kind! You are conditioning your infant for the inevitable routines of big kids.

In summary, if your child is too young to use fluoridated toothpaste, water with a soft toothbrush is absolutely appropriate for dental care. The use of baby toothpaste is also fine. The most important thing is that you are brushing your baby's teeth...twice a day, please!

A few of my favorite resources for parents:

Healthy Habits for Kids (courtesy of the American Dental Association):
(Check out the Elmo video!)

About Fluoride and Children (courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics):

Maternal and Child Resource Center (courtesy of Georgetown University): http://www.mchoralhealth.org/index.html

1 comment :