Kylie Misher-Stenzler, 11, and her brother, Colby, 9, are getting their annual dental checkup. To keep their teeth healthy they brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
"We have been lucky in that they haven't had cavities thus far," mom Shari Misher-Stenzler said.
New guidelines from the American Dental Association say children should begin using toothpaste with fluoride as soon as they get their first tooth to help fight cavities. For kids under 3, parents should use just a smear. For children 3-6, a pea-sized amount is suggested.
"Not having the fluoride you would be more susceptible to decay as the teeth wear down and lose their certain minerals," said Dr. Mark Hochburg, a dentist.
Previous guidelines recommended fluoride toothpaste only after age 2. The ADA says early prevention is important because about 1 in 4 children have cavities by the time they enter kindergarten. But Hochburg says use only small amounts of fluoride because when swallowed it can discolor permanent teeth.
"As they are forming, chronically ingesting fluoride causes fluorosis.
Shari Misher-Stenzler says it's all about being diligent.
"It's pretty standard and old school, brushing their teeth, you know, routinely," she said.
Experts agree daily brushing and flossing along with regular checkups are the best way to keep your children cavity-free. Dentists say parents should also be diligent about getting their children to spit after brushing.
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