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News / January 18, 2012

Fluoride toothpaste recommended for disabled children

by Guy Hiscott

Disabled children should use fluoridated toothpaste earlier than other children, according to research from Trinity College Dublin.

The general recommendation is that young children should not use fluoride rich toothpaste. However, a study led by Professor June Nunn and Dr Darius Sagheri says that children with disabilities can be more prone to oral disease, justifying the case for using it.

The authors said: ‘Up to three years of age there was virtually no dental decay in these children. But once you got over that threshold, that’s when decay started to develop, and when they have decay it tends to remain untreated.

‘The recommendation here in Ireland is that children under the age of two shouldn’t be using fluoridated toothpaste. However, given the vulnerability of these children, and the fact that dental care can take years to develop, we need to start protection early.”

It is recommended that children brush their own teeth, but in cases where this is not possible, parents or carers should brush the child’s teeth.
There are a number of reasons why children with disabilities are more prone to oral disease.

Some genetic problems can cause defects in tooth enamel, and Down’s syndrome has been linked with gum problems. In addition, children who have difficulties chewing do not benefit from the natural cleaning action of the tongue cheek and lip muscles.