The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all children to use toothpaste that contains fluoride as soon as teeth appear, no matter the risk of cavities.
Experts suggest that till age of 3, children should use a smear (the size of a rice grain) of toothpaste. After age 3, a pea-sized amount may be used. Parents should put the toothpaste on the child's toothbrush and supervise and help with the brushing.
The recommendations of AAP also includes that once the child's teeth start appearing, fluoride varnish should be applied by doctors or dentists every 3 to 6 months.
However, AAP cautioned that children under the age of six should avoid using over-the-counter fluoride rinse due to risk of swallowing. These recommendations are made because of the growing problem of tooth decay in the United States.
In fact, pediatric dentists have found that tooth decay has become the most chronic disease suffered by children and agree fluoride is the best preventative measure.
While promoting the use of fluoride in children, the AAP also warns that excessive fluoride can lead to a condition known as "fluorosis", which produces pitting and striae of the teeth. The children at highest risk for developing this condition are between 15 and 30 months old.
These new recommendations by Dr. Melinda Clark and her colleagues at the AAP's Section on Oral Health, were published in the journal Pediatrics.