baby brushing teeth with momIf you thought you knew everything about baby dental hygiene, think again. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just released a new report that names tooth decay as "the most common chronic disease in children in the US" and urges parents to start using fluoridated toothpaste when baby gets her first tooth.

But before you start running out to your pediatrician and consulting the pharmacy on which new tube to buy, the AAP has set some very strict guidelines on how much parents should use and when. Fluoride, after all, can be toxic to babies when ingested in large amounts.

That's why fluoride toothpastes have typically been a no-no until kids were 2 ... at least.

But now the doctor's group is telling moms at the first sign of tooth eruption, it's time to start the fluoridated toothpaste. They say just a smear of it, only the size of a grain of rice, should be used until the baby is 3. After she turns 3, upgrade to a pea-sized amount.

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So what they're saying is we've been brushing baby's teeth wrong all this time? Way to add some more stress to parents, AAP!

And there's more ...

Parents should steer very clear of any fluoride rinses because the AAP does not recommend them for children under 6 since they're at a high risk of swallowing large levels of the liquid. Same rules apply for dentists as well. Your child's pediatrician has been urged to use fluoride varnish every three to six months, starting with the emergence of the first tooth.

Obviously, controlling what an infant swallows is a hard job to do. Which is why we've always been told to put off fluoride usage until they're older. It's rather rough trying to get a baby to spit on cue!

Not to mention there are some mixed messages out there about fluoride and what it can do to our kids. Some moms won't give their kids fluoride at all -- regardless of age. Others tend to wait as long as possible, and being told to start earlier -- years earlier -- puts them in a tight spot.

But the fact that the AAP is calling tooth decay the number one chronic disease in kids is certainly worth listening to ... and parents need to do something to fight it.

Will you be using fluoride on your littlest ones? Why or why not?

 

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