Q: I have a 16 month old. Our pediatric dentist told us we could use a very small amount of fluoride toothpaste, but the pediatrician (and an article on Parents.com) said not to. We have city water, which I am told has a small amount of fluoride in it. Is it safe to use fluoride toothpaste before my child is 2 years old?
A: Although swallowing a tiny bit of fluoride-containing toothpaste isn't dangerous, your toddler doesn't really need to use toothpaste (with or without fluoride) to clean his teeth. The mechanism of wiping and brushing is all he needs. And, if your toddler is like every other toddler I know, the odds of being able to brush effectively becomes difficult when flavored toothpaste is used. Toddlers tend to shut their mouths to suck on the toothpaste, making it difficult for a parent to brush those teeth. I advise waiting until a child is old enough to spit (usually around age 3) to start using toothpaste.