It’s no secret that toothpaste is big business! Entire aisles at your local drug store and grocery store are devoted to oral health – including manual and electric toothbrushes, floss and flossers, mouthwash, and – of course – toothpaste. It can all become a little overwhelming, particularly when deciding which is the best choice for keeping your child’s beautiful smile shiny and healthy.
At Operation Shiny Teeth, we’re invested in keeping the smiles of children in foster care shiny and healthy, too. Since many of them show up on the doorsteps of their new foster parents with nothing but the clothes on their backs, by providing them with the simple yet powerful gift of a new toothbrush and toothpaste, we enable them to shine bright and face the world with a renewed sense of self-esteem.
Whether shopping for your own child or teaming up with Operation Shiny Teeth to put smiles back on the faces of children in foster care, we’ve looked to the professionals for some tips for navigating the toothpaste aisle…
Look for the ADA Seal of Acceptance
When you see the ADA Seal of Acceptance on toothpaste packaging, you can rest assured that it meets the high standards of the American Dental Association (ADA). Since its founding in 1859, it has been the ADA’s mission to help dentists succeed and support the advancement of the health of the public. The 159,000+ member-strong organization advocates for public health, collects the latest research on oral health, provides evidence-based insights, disseminates data on industry trends, and so much more. The seal has been the leading mark of dental product safety and efficacy since 1931.
Get An Early Start
As soon as teeth erupt, you can begin brushing your child’s teeth with a small-headed, soft-bristled toothbrush. You can also use fluoride toothpaste – a powerful tool for preventing tooth decay. Because you don’t want little ones ingesting too much fluoride, the amount of toothpaste you place on that toothbrush is essential. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends starting with a smear of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice if your child is under 3, then increasing the amount to a pea-sized smear for those 3 to 6.
From the beginning, do your best to encourage them to spit the toothpaste out rather than swallow it. Show them how it’s done, and you’ll surely get a few giggles out of it. If they swallow a little too much, it could lead to stomach upset. According to the National Capital Poison Center, you can counter the effects of an upset tummy with a glass of milk – the calcium in the milk binds with the fluoride. To prevent them from sampling the toothpaste outside of your observation, place it out of reach as you would medicine and make sure they know it’s not food by treating it more like medicine.
Add a Little Flavor to Their Routine
Many pediatric fluoride toothpastes come in flavors that will make their brushing regimen a little more appealing. While you don’t want to encourage them to consume toothpaste, flavors that run the gamut from bubblegum to berries can help promote healthy brushing habits. Adopt the practice of reading labels and make sure they are free of unnecessary additives like artificial preservatives and colors.
Become Familiar with the Different Forms of Fluoride
Fluoride toothpaste represents more than 95% of toothpaste sales in the U.S. But did you know that there are actually THREE different types of fluoride you can find in the toothpaste aisle? Stannous Fluoride was the first fluoride compound added to toothpaste in 1956. It is considered an effective anticavity agent to this day. Its antimicrobial effect is a powerful tool against the bacteria that cause gum disease, but it has been known to stain teeth over time. Sodium Monofluorophosphate is another fluoride compound most commonly found in whitening toothpaste or toothpaste designed to protect gum and teeth sensitivity. Sodium Fluoride is perhaps the most common fluoride compound. When used correctly, it is highly effective in making teeth more resistant to decay and the bacteria that cause cavities. However, if your little one swallows toothpaste with sodium fluoride, they run the risk of developing a tummy ache.
Steer Clear for Now
While a slew of toothpastes on the market are ideal for tackling issues many adults consider important, they are not necessary for children. While you should make sure the toothpaste you select for your child contains fluoride, you should steer clear of abrasive, charcoal, and whitening toothpaste for those growing grins. According to oral health portal Dentaly.org, many dentists consider age 14 as the most appropriate to start using teeth whitening products.
The Best Advice
Of course, the very best person to ask about the best toothpaste for your child is YOUR CHILD’S DENTIST. Like you, they have your child’s best oral health interests at heart. Visit their website to see if they have a blog on the subject, call their office and ask the front desk, or ask their dentist face-to-face the next time your little one has a checkup.
Just as you seek the best ways to protect that beautiful smile on your child’s face, Operation Shiny Teeth strives to do the same for children in foster care. We invite you to partner with us in our mission to promote well-being, build confidence, and spread smiles among foster families through the gift of essential needs. By providing the children we serve with brand-new toothbrushes and toothpaste, we enable them to shine bright and face the world with a renewed sense of self-esteem.
Visit OperationShinyTeeth.org to learn more about holding a donation collection drive, hosting a packing party, or making a charitable contribution to support our efforts.