Help! My daughter refuses to use toothpaste

Just because a child doesn’t like one type of toothpaste doesn’t mean she’ll refuse them all. Many kids hate the minty taste of traditional adult toothpastes — but might love a berry or bubblegum flavor.

By five or six, kids should be able to spit out the foam rather than swallow it. If your daughter hasn’t mastered this skill yet, teaching her how to do so can make brushing more pleasant for both of you.

If your daughter still refuses to use toothpaste, have her brush with a wet toothbrush and no paste, and then follow up with a fluoride rinse. Many studies prove that topical fluoride helps prevent cavities, so this step is critical if she’s not using toothpaste that contains fluoride.

Even though your daughter probably still has mostly baby teeth, keeping them healthy is essential. If she loses them too early because of excessive decay, her permanent teeth can drift, which increases the odds that she’ll need orthodontia. Instilling good oral hygiene habits early will benefit her for the rest of her life.

About the Author

Dr. John R. Liu is a pediatric dentist in Issiqua, Wash., and current president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. He has also been selected as one of the “Top Dentists” by Seattle Magazine in 2002, 2006 and 2009. Dr. Liu and his wife, Kari, reside in Sammamish with their two young daughters, Clara and Tara.


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