Fluoride Ok for Toothbrushing for 3 Year Old

Updated on March 31, 2011
P.L. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
16 answers

Hi mamas, I took my daughter for the first time to the dentist last week and was told (no cavities by the way!) that it's okay for her to brush her teeth with a very small amount of toothpaste. My 3 year old is on the young side and still most likely swallows the paste in the toothbrush but the dentist said a small amount of fluoride if swallowed by a 3 year old 2 x a day is okay. While I don't want to question this dentist I always though the child has to be old enough to use fluoride because you're not supposed to swallow this stuff. Thoughts? Thanks mamas.

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answers from Philadelphia on

Use training toothpaste once a day and the other toothpaste may be at night. I understand about the swallowing since I have a three year old.

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answers from Nashville on

Yes you need to use the fluoride toothpaste but only a pea size amount is all they need. They need the fluoride for healthy teeth. My daughter is 2 and i only give her a pea size amount and she doesnt spit yet good either but its good for her teeth. What little bit of the pea size amount they swallow wont hurt them:)
Using fluoride is the most effective and economical method of protecting the tooth against decay.It is important, then, to get fluoride to the teeth when they are forming. That means from birth, when the milk teeth are forming, right through the development of the adult molars and, in the case of wisdom teeth, even later. I am a Registered Dental Assistant and its VERY important for fluoride tooth paste. Protect those teeth:)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Missoula on

Our dentist says the same thing. We live in an area where there is no fluoride added to the water supply, so the dentist suggests either giving young kids a supplement, or just letting them brush with fluoride toothpaste and swallow it, which is what my 3 year old does. It would be a problem if she ate a bunch of toothpaste, but a small amount on her toothbrush seems okay.

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answers from Lafayette on

i haven't read the other replies, but i want to share what my pediatrician said to me. my daughter had just turned two and he told me to start brushing with a small amount of toothpaste. the american academy of pediatrics (or whatever governing board, it was a few months ago so i can't remember now) said to start using floride toothpaste at 2. the benefits outweigh the risk of swallowing a small amount of floride. i put just a smear of toothpaste on the toothbrush for her to use. and on the tubes of toothpaste it now says 2 years and up.

floride is bad if you swallow large amounts at once. a tiny bit in the morning and at night probably won't make that much of a difference. it hasn't in my daughter at least.

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answers from Detroit on

Usually on the tube of fluoride toothpaste it says to use no more than a pea-sized amount until the child is good about rinsing and spitting and not swallowing. I use a tiny bit on DD's toothbrush twice a day and she is also 3 - she will rinse and spit when we are done but I suspect most of it gets swallowed beforehand. That tiny amount I am not worried about. There is also non-fluoride toothpaste. If a child ingests too much fluoride at this age, it can cause their permanent teeth to be discolored when they come in, but otherwise I am not aware of any toxic affects. If your child swallows a huge amount all at once, I would call the doctor just to be safe. Plus the brushing part is what is probably more important, for getting rid the the sugar and plaque on the teeth.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Do you have fluoride in your tap water? If so I'd probably use the training toothpaste (without fluoride). Kids need lots of good minerals in general for tooth and bone development, not necessarily just fluoride. I recently read that people with fluoride in their tap water should not use their tap water to mix baby formula, because we get fluoride from other sources (like food), and when the water is fluoridated babies and kids often get too much which can lead to dental problems like fluorosis. So you see this is somewhat of a controversial issue. I'd just check about your tap water and go from there. If you're worried about tooth decay or tooth development just make sure you're not serving up too many sugary foods or juices, and make sure your kids get mineral rich foods, and a good diet in general. We don't have fluoridated water so we use fluoride toothpaste with my 3 y.o., and she does not yet understand the concept of spitting it out :)


answers from Santa Fe on

Where we last lived there was no fluoride in the water (naturally or added). Most cities add fluoride bc it really helps with tooth decay. Anyway, the pediatricians there have kids take a fluoride tablet once a day so they are swallowing some each day. The kids that do not do this usually get cavities they said. Our son was fine taking fluoride and never got a cavity. We also used fluoride toothpaste. So....it seems to me it will not hurt to swallow a very small amount each day. Our kids were fine. If you are worried just use a teeny bit...not even a pea sized amount (a little smear).


answers from Oklahoma City on

Several years ago it was brought to my attention there was a warning label on our toothpaste so I did a bit of research. Here's a link to an article I put together with that research which I hope you will find helpful - http://www.squidoo.com/Flouride-Water-Health. I did more research on personal care products if you'd like to read that one as well.

Children are our most precious gift. I love to read all these caring questions about little ones.


answers from Dallas on

I use fluoride for my 3 year old. She's good about spitting though.



answers from Pittsburgh on

My neighbor, a dentist, said don't use fluoride-toothpaste until they can spit. My daughter is almost 3 and still haven't figured out spitting. I plan to work on it this summer when we're outside with glasses of water to spit! ;-) As for now, we're still using the fluoride free.



answers from Little Rock on

There is fluoride free toothpaste for small kids to learn to brush with. Check to see if the faucet water in your area is treated with fluoride. If it is not, then you need to use fluoride toothpaste in small amounts other wise I don't see the need until they have learned to not swallow a fluoride free toothpaste. Most dentist will treat the childs teeth with fluoride on a office visit if they see that you live in a area that the city water is not treated with fluoride.



answers from Philadelphia on

Adults only need a pea size of paste. For my kids at age 3 we only used a smear recommended by all of our dentists. This is a good age to start teaching kids not to swallow and to spit out. It can take some time but it won't hurt them if it's swallowed. Flouride in large doses is not good. A smear twice a day is fine.

My trio are 6 years and we still don't use much more than a smear of paste for them. There's going to be flouride in your drinking water, unless you have well water so a smear is plenty to brush with.

K. b
mom to 5 including triplets



answers from Los Angeles on

It's probably fine as long it is a really small amount of toothpaste. We don't like to use flouride in our family, though, so we buy the flouride-free kind (we find it at Whole Foods). They have a children's flouride free toothpaste (Tom's of Maine is the brand) that is strawberry flavored. It is a little expensive, but if you're worried about the flouride you could use the flouride-free instead.



answers from Chicago on

How about the flouride free toothpaste? My dd uses colgate floride free toothpaste because she is not good at spitting yet. It is a "training" toothpaste and works just the same as "real" toothpaste.



answers from Los Angeles on

yes its totally fine. my daughter was 2 1/2 when i started floride toothpaste on her because she can spit. if your daughter can spit use the floride. when i started using it on my daughter i would use the training toothpaste with a little bit of my toothpaste on the end and i just gradually switched :)


answers from Norfolk on

I used baby tooth paste with my son till he understood how to spit out when brushing teeth. No matter what paste you use, it should only be a pea sized blob on the brush (very small amount).
Swallowing a little fluoride doesn't cause any harm. We're on well water now where we live but I've lived with city water my whole life and it had fluoride added to it. A little bit does help to strengthen teeth.
If you want to guarantee your child will spit it out, use a flavor tooth paste your child thinks is yucky.

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