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Babies’ teeth and gums require the same level of care as that of older children and adults, but the method of oral hygiene for infants and young children is different and relative to age. Prior to baby’s first tooth, careful cleaning of the gums with a soft wet cloth is all that is required, but upon the first appearance of teeth, brushing with an age-appropriate toothbrush and baby toothpaste is recommended. Choosing a baby toothpaste is a simple matter of seeking out products that are specifically manufactured and labeled for use in children.
When choosing baby toothpaste, make certain you are comparing brands manufactured for children. While the primary ingredients in most toothpaste include some type of abrasive, fluoride and a flavoring, the ingredients and quantity of ingredients are different in adult and baby toothpaste. Baby toothpaste should contain no sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), as this ingredient is known to cause mouth ulcers in some young children. Look for natural baby toothpaste that contains as few ingredients as possible to simplify the selection process.
Another ingredient of major concern to many parents is fluoride. Since fluoride is beneficial to healthy teeth, most toothpaste brands contain it, although not all. Excessive amounts of fluoride can cause harm to developing teeth, which is why it is important to always choose a brand made for babies. Due to the addition of fluoride in most municipal drinking water systems, fluoride supplements are no longer recommended for children. If the use of fluoridated toothpaste is of concern, talk to your pediatrician or dentist.
Keep in mind that babies and young children will swallow toothpaste rather than spit it out. When considering toothpaste for baby read the list of ingredients to be sure you personally approve. Some toothpaste has sweeteners that contain sugars, while others have xylitol, a non-sugar sweetener. If you prefer to avoid sweetened toothpaste, avoid the brands containing sucralose or similar sweeteners. A baby who does not expect sweet-tasting toothpaste will not know the difference. Again, selecting brands that are all natural will help avoid or reduce the confusion over inert ingredients.
Choosing a baby toothpaste made specifically for children, and selecting one that has a parent-approved ingredients list, is the first step towards life-long oral hygiene practice. Above all, follow the recommended guidelines for frequency and quantity of use and supervise brushing until children are old enough to perform the task alone satisfactorily and safely.