Is toothpaste needed for baby teeth?

Is toothpaste necessary when cleaning an infant's teeth? If so, is there any special product I should use?

Question:

Brushing teeth as soon as they erupt is most important. Using toothpaste on new teeth is not critical until after a child is over a year old. For children younger than one year, brushing without paste is sufficient. If your infant is fussy during brushing time, the taste of an extremely small amount of toothpaste may encourage cooperation.

There are a few toothpastes available for infants, including Baby Orajel Tooth and Gum Cleanser. Baby Orajel contains an ingredient called microdent. The Orajel company claims that this patented ingredient helps remove plaque- like film and fight plaque build up. Since I have not found any clinical studies that address this ingredient, I cannot comment on its efficacy. This product does not contain fluoride and it is non- abrasive. It comes in different flavors including fruit and peaches 'n cream. Kids usually enjoy these flavors.

Toothpastes specially formulated for infants can be beneficial, but they are not absolutely required or necessarily recommended. I recommend using any non-abrasive, non-fluoridated toothpaste until the child is one to two years old. Once a child is older than two, a match head sized amount of fluoride toothpaste can and should be used.

Getting an early start on brushing your infant's teeth is more important than the brand of toothpaste you purchase. This is important because the bacteria which cause cavities are present as soon as the baby teeth erupt. For most children, the first teeth erupt at about six to eight months after birth. If the bacteria are not mechanically removed at least twice daily by brushing, the bacteria population can grow rapidly. These oral bacteria combine with an infant's soft diet to cause tooth decay. Progression of decay from the enamel (outer layer of tooth structure) to the dentin (second layer of tooth structure) can happen in less than six months!

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