This is actually not an easy question to answer. Fluoride is a very important element in the development of strong teeth, and all children need it. Fluoride is a natural element and it mixes with the enamel of developing teeth to strengthen the enamel. There are three basic ways to get fluoride into a child: fluorinated tap water, fluoride toothpaste and fluoride treatments from the dentist.
If your child drinks tap water, chances are they are receiving fluoride. To know how much, you can take a sample of your tap water to a pediatric dentist and they can have it tested for fluoride levels. This will tell the dentist if the amount in your water is sufficient to protect developing teeth.
You should be brushing a baby’s teeth when they come in. You can do this with an extra soft toothbrush or by wiping each tooth with wet gauze or a wet washcloth. If you are going to brush the teeth, then just use a slight smear of toothpaste. It only takes a small amount to do the job.
When your child begins to brush their teeth, it is important for you to monitor the amount of fluoride toothpaste is used on the brush. It is possible to get too much fluoride if the child is swallowing the toothpaste instead of spitting it out. Too much fluoride can lead to a condition called dental fluorosis. This condition causes discoloration of the permanent teeth. It takes quite a bit of fluoride for this to happen, however, and it is not a reason to avoid fluoride toothpaste.
What you need to do is to simply put a pea sized dollop of toothpaste on the child’s brush. You don’t need to worry, if they swallow the toothpaste this amount will not be enough to cause any concern. You need to teach children to spit out the toothpaste as soon as they are able, because many children like the flavor of toothpaste and will want to swallow it.
Only your child’s dentist can accurately determine the right amount of fluoride for your child’s tooth health. There is just no substitute for regular dental care. It is recommended that your child has his or her first dentist visit by age three at the latest. Before this, you are in charge of making sure the child brushes, or that you brush their teeth for them. If the dentist determines that the child is not receiving enough fluoride for tooth health, they may prescribe a fluoride supplement or a fluoride rinse, just to make sure.