Breaking News: Children 2 Years and Younger SHOULD Use Fluoride Toothpaste


I don’t know about anyone else, but it seems to me that recommendations about how to keep Caroline safe and healthy and alive is constantly changing. I used to get headaches sometimes by all of the contradicting advice I would get after Caroline was born. It felt like I had to do research before I responded to people…

“I know Aunt Amy that when I was a baby you were supposed to put us to sleep on our tummies, but now it is only their backs… I don’t know what will happen if she spits up in the middle of the night.”

“Yes Charlotte, it was okay five years ago to have bumpers in Tommy’s crib, but now under no circumstances should there be bumpers, blankets, stuffed animals, ANYTHING that could suffocate Caroline.”

“Calm down grandpa, it will not kill Caroline to eat eggs and peanut butter at 7 months. No, I promise the doctor said to introduce them now, just no honey. No honey, at all.”

I could go on… breast milk is best for as long as possible, keep her facing backwards in a car seat for as long as possible, and on, and on, and on.

Caroline just turned one and has four teeth. We have had one of the those plastic finger brushes (Timberlane Dental gave it to me at a BVTMB event, if they hadn’t I wouldn’t have known to use it) that we have been trying to use at least once a day. I knew that we should probably think about picking a dentist and scheduling her an appointment.

Little girl with lots of teeth
Look at those teeth.

I found myself in Babies R Us last week and was looking at tooth brushes and and tooth paste. If my inner bargain hunter hadn’t been present, I would have bought a cute little tooth brush and one of the many tooth pastes that was clearly marked fluoride free for 0-2 years old. Thank goodness I didn’t, it would have been a a waste of $5 (the bargain hunter in me is jumping for joy).

Caroline turned one on February 26th. On the 27th we had her one year doctor’s appointment. I dutifully brought Caroline to her pediatrician, mainly to find out her height and weight and to be told that she was perfect. On one of the three papers I filled out for them I checked I wanted to talk about dental care… I mean we had to talk about something, right? 

Feeling confident, I said to the pediatrician, “I know I should schedule an appointment with a dentist, I’m just wondering how many times a day I should brush her teeth with a tooth brush and tooth paste.” Her pediatrician responded, “Twice a day. Oh, and make sure it is fluoride toothpaste.” Me shocked, “You mean fluoride free toothpaste right? In the stores they are clearly marked.” He laughed, “It changed last month. Seriously, they just changed it, you are supposed to use fluoride toothpaste now.” Whaaaaat?

I’m not saying I didn’t believe this man with a PhD, but let’s just say I felt the need to do some research.

And so I did. He was right (surprise?). The American Dental Association changed their decades-old recommendation that a pea size amount of fluoride toothpaste should not be used until a child is 2 years old. Now (cough, a month ago) it is recommended that parents should use a smear of fluoride toothpaste twice a day as soon as their children cut teeth. Once the child is between the ages of 2 to 5 years old the amount should be increased to a pea size amount. The change is due to research finding that fluoride early on is a strong preventive measure to fight tooth decay in children 6 years and younger.

Childrens all natural toothpaste

So my question is, what if Caroline had been born in January not February, when would I have been told to use fluoride tooth paste… and what else don’t I know to keep her alive… I mean she is still alive a year later, but maybe it is just luck. And furthermore, how is it that all of use born in the 70’s and 80’s are still alive? I mean really, I should have suffocated in my crib.

But seriously, if you care about your kids’ teeth, use fluoride toothpaste. We are. Even if she is swallowing it… but just a smear.

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I became a Vermont transplant ten years ago after meeting and falling madly in love with my husband, Jason, a South Burlington native at the University of New Hampshire. My education and training are in social work and although I left that career behind (at least for now) after my first child was born in 2014 my passion continues to be children, families, and the desire to connect moms to one another through building community. Fast forward to the present and my days are filled with parenting and chasing after two amazing and bright children, Caroline and Augie, and one fur baby, Copper, while trying to keep our home having some semblance of order. I am also an elected member of our local School Board.


  1. I figured this out on my own sadly. My son had tooth decay even though I was brushing his teeth with nonfluoride toothpaste. With my daughter I used fluoride toothpaste early on so we could avoid the tooth problems her brother has had. The hygienist at the cleft palate clinic a year ago said we could use fluoride too. Luckily, thanks to her older brother, she learned how to spit early. I’m glad the official recommendation is now what I was doing already 🙂

  2. I want to say the dentist at Timberlane had told us it was okay to use a smear on the tooth brush before my son was 2 years old. He is almost 4 now but I feel like that is what they always told me. They would wipe some on a paper towel then lightly rub the brush on it. I mean barely any was on the brush. We still used fluoride free at home and still do some times. My oldest is 6 and I am just nervous about so much fluoride in their systems. I do feel that the fluoride free brands we have used do not do as good a job as Crest as getting their teeth nice and clean. I have also used them and do not feel as fresh afterwards.

  3. Totally relevant right now for us… thanks! I was just at a 9-month appointment chatting with the doctor about the confusing recommendations for dentistry and fluoride. We just roll with it!


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