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Toothpaste Facts for Kids

by Brandy Burgess

It’s cool, minty and cleans your teeth -- it's toothpaste. Toothpaste is an abrasive paste or gel that helps remove leftover food and plaque from your teeth. Fluoride toothpastes account for approximately 95 percent of toothpaste sales, according to the Dental Health Foundation website. While toothpaste containing fluoride can help prevent cavities, too much can cause health problems. By sharing facts about toothpaste with your kids, you can help establish safe and healthy hygiene habits from an early age.

Regular Brushing Results in Fewer Cavities

Children under the age of 16 experienced 24 percent fewer cavities when they brushed with fluoridated toothpaste compared to children who brushed with non-fluoridated toothpaste, according to the Family Gentle Dental Care website. Tooth decay occurs when sugary and starchy foods, such as milk, bread, cakes and candy, are left on the teeth. Bacteria turns these foods into acids, which combine with saliva and food debris to form plaque. Regular teeth brushing grinds away plaque before it has a chance to create cavities.

Toothpaste Ingredients

Toothpaste is considered an abrasive, as it has the ability to polish and clean hard surfaces. Mild abrasives, such as dicalcium phosphate dehydrate, calcium carbonate and hydrated aluminum oxides, among others, make up nearly one-fifth of the tube. Remaining ingredients include cleaning components, such as water, fluoride and foaming, coloring and flavoring agents. Together, these toothpaste ingredients help remove plaque, clean and polish teeth, freshen breath and eliminate tooth stains.

Brushing Should Begin After the First Tooth

Teeth should be cleaned as soon as the first tooth erupts. At first, teeth should simply be wiped with a clean, damp cloth. As more teeth emerge, switch to a soft child’s toothbrush. Kids should begin using toothpaste with fluoride at age 2, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your child may continue to need help brushing her teeth until age 7 or 8. A pea-sized portion of toothpaste -- used twice a day -- is all that is needed in most cases to help prevent the formation of cavities.

Too Much Toothpaste Can Cause Dental Fluorosis

Young children should be carefully watched to prevent the overconsumption of toothpaste. Consuming too much fluoride can result in dental fluorosis, a tooth enamel defect caused by excessive intake of fluoride. This is especially important for children 0 to 8 years old whose teeth are still forming, according to FluorideAlert.org. Dental fluorosis can cause white splotches or streaks on the teeth in milder forms. In more severe cases, excess fluoride can result in black and brown staining and the deteriorating of tooth enamel.

About the Author

Based in northern New York, Brandy Burgess has been writing on pets, technical documentation and health resources since 2007. She also writes on personal development for YourFreelanceWritingCareer.com. Burgess' work also has appeared on various online publications, including eHow.com. Burgess holds a Bachelor of Arts in computer information systems from DeVry University and her certified nurses aid certification.

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