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When should I start giving my baby toothpaste?

Paediatric Dentistry Children’s Health Dental

My baby is a little over 1 year old now. I was wondering when is the appropriate time to get my baby to brush her teeth with toothpaste?

DOCTOR’S ANSWER (1)

You could consider using toothpaste now! Baby toothpastes are specially formulated with lovely flavours that can make toothbrushing tasty and fun!

Paediatric Dentistry Singapore

However, the bigger head-scratcher for most parents is which toothpaste to use. Sorry, long answer ahead! Plus, it certainly doesn’t help that there are so many brands of toothpaste available on the shelves for babies.

Here are 2 factors that you need to consider when making that informed choice. 

  • Is your child at risk of dental decay?

You may be surprised but the youngest child I have seen with tooth decay was only 11 months old! Unfortunately, young children in Singapore are very much at risk of developing dental decay. Fluoride that is found in some children’s toothpaste can help reduce that risk. 

How would you know if your child is at risk? Paediatric dentists look at factors like diet, feeding practices, dental habits and the status of baby teeth to decide if there is a high risk of developing decay. Your child’s paediatric dentist will then be able to recommend the best toothpaste based on your child’s unique needs.

  • Can your child spit?

While fluoride is helpful in preventing cavities, it is not advisable for children who are not able to spit well.

What if my child can’t spit but the risk of decay is high? Upon weighing the risks of a child developing dental cavities (which weaken teeth!) versus the potential side effects (the biggest risk is development of mild dental fluorosis - these are white flecks on teeth which are usually only picked up by your dentist), the choice tends to sway towards careful use of the fluoride-containing toothpaste. 

There are different levels of fluoride in toothpaste. If you feel uncomfortable with the recommended toothpaste, make sure you have an open discussion with your paediatric dentist.

There are many other tooth-protective strategies apart from fluoride alone that can be taken into consideration. I always appreciate parents voicing out their concerns so we can create a customised and effective dental plan for their child.


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Disclaimer: Any answers provided are for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

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