When to Transition Your Child to Fluoridated Toothpaste

October 10, 2013

As a Dental Hygienist – a common question I get from parents of toddlers is ‘When should I switch to fluoride toothpaste?’. It’s a common question, because it’s a real grey area, and there is so much controversy surrounding the use of fluoride. (But we’ll just table that topic for now). For the sake of discussion – Let’s assume you use fluoride in your home.Non Fluoride vs fluoride toothpaste 01Fluoride is a great adjunct to brushing your teeth as it helps strengthen the enamel and tooth structure, which helps to prevent decay. When used in small, pea sized amounts and spit out after brushing it’s very safe and proven effective. However, young children don’t understand that they shouldn’t be swallowing toothpaste, and therefore we as parents need to teach our kids that fluoride is not ok to eat.

Swallowing fluoride toothpaste in very small quantities occasionally will likely not cause any medical complications or damages. However, when it is done on a daily basis – it will put your child at a higher risk for developing dental fluorosis, where the teeth become more brown spotted and stained (yep, even the adult teeth that haven’t come in yet!). When swallowed regularly, fluoride can have some gastrointestinal side effects and can even cause problems with bone development.

The first thing to look at when considering fluoride use for your toddlers is whether or not they spit out their toothpaste after brushing, or whether they like toothpaste because it tastes good and they want to eat it. Teaching Children to Brush Their TeethA good way for your toddlers to learn how to brush and spit is to have them take their turn brushing their teeth while you brush yours. Toddlers love to mimic. Make a BIG deal out of spitting in the sink and it will be fun for them.Teach your kids to spit toothpasteEven when they start spitting, be sure that they are really spitting all of it, and not swallowing the first round and spitting the saliva after. When they have conquered this task, they are ready for fluoride. Keep in mind that you may have to switch back if you catch them swallowing again.

I am super guilty of loading their toothbrushes up and bringing them to wherever it is that they are, and brushing them right there – so they are forced to swallow. When I do this, I grab the non-fluoride toothpaste for sure. We are really close with our oldest learning how to spit in the sink, but he doesn’t do it every time – so we don’t use fluoride very often with him, either. My youngest is almost 3, but really enjoys eating toothpaste – so we will likely not be switching him over for a long time. We also store our fluoride TP up high specifically to protect him.

I am planning on putting out some more dental articles soon -so if you have any specific questions I’d be happy to tackle them next!


  1. Yes- i do- i had 2 teeth removed-=so they charged me for surg remove erupted- ok- yes i had that done

    but what is this…
    conegraft with extract? they charged me 850.00 and all they did was remove my tooth- i saw they have some gel- rubbed that on my hole and then sewed it shut..
    thanks- if you can help me understand- email me if you can- tcogbill at live dot com

    • Hi Tess – thanks for the question! Although I’m not exactly sure I can help, however I can shine a little light. My best advice is to give them a call and see why they charged you without telling you that you needed bone grafting. All procedures and costs should be pre-authorized and made clear to you before a procedure, or you can argue it. Did you sign any consent forms for a bone graft? They should have had you sign something to tell you the side effects and possible outcomes of bone grafting.
      Did you also have stitches in any other area of your mouth? for bone grafting they would have taken bone likely from the roof of your mouth and placed it near the area where they removed the tooth.

      The only other thing I can think of is that they charged out the wrong code and didn’t think about it. Some extractions are considered surgical, especially if they have to cut into bone. The gel foam is to help the bone heal faster and to help ensure that you don’t get a dry socket.

      However, $850 does sound about right for two surgical extractions in my area (around $400ish each). They can get pretty complicated: the Dr’s in my office earlier this week spent 5 hours on one tooth. Yikes!

      Best bet: Give them a call and have them explain it to you. If it’s right, they should be able to explain and prove the charges. Ask for a consult to explain if you’re still not understanding! 😀 Good luck!

  2. sorry that word is supposed to be

  3. another question here PLEASE- i have so tarter build up- how can i get that off myself?

    BTW- thanks for the flouride tip- i always wondered and never asked


    • As a dental hygienist, I cannot recommend that you remove tartar buildup from your own teeth. Your best option is to see a hygienist and get your teeth cleaned.
      I’m going to answer this question with another post: it will be live tomorrow!

  4. Rebecca Parsons says:

    I just recently switch to fluoridated toothpaste through recommendation of our Dentist. Great post for people who aren’t sure.

  5. It’s been so long since Angeline was little that I can’t remember when we started using fluoride toothpaste! Now I’m paranoid that I started her too young and she was swallowing it and will have gross teeth. LOL 🙂

    • I think you’d know by now. 🙂
      There is a plus side to having mottled teeth from eating too much fluoride… Usually those people have VERY little decay, if any. I forgot to mention that, but it’s def. not something to strive towards!

  6. Robin Wilson says:

    This is really great info. I think I started my on too young according to this, but 20 years ago there wasn’t access to so much information…at least not easily. I do have a niece that this applies to so I’ll be sharing with her dad.

  7. I’m just starting to teach my 3 year old how to spit and not swalow the toothpaste. She is definitely ready! Probably a little late but oh well! 🙂

  8. vickie couturier says:

    im trying to have a routine for my grandkids when they come and spend the night,,but my issues are i have 14 so how in the world would i keep track of the brushes? not enought different colors made,,lol,,i know its a good problem to have

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