While old guidelines suggested parents avoid using fluoride toothpaste on children before age 2, the American Dental Association (ADA) now has a new recommendation, USA Today reported.

In updated guidelines published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, parents are told they can use small amounts of fluoride toothpaste on children under age 2. The ADA advises using a smear of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice on a child’s first teeth, then moving up to a pea-size blob once the child reaches age 3.

The new policy, which is in line with the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s recommendations, was prompted by the fact that 25 percent of U.S. children develop cavities before kindergarten, Edmond L. Truelove, chair of the group’s Council on Scientific Affairs, said in a statement.

Using small amounts of fluoride toothpaste will help prevent cavities in children while minimizing their risk of fluorosis– a condition in which teeth become discolored from too much fluoride exposure early in life.

Children should be taught to spit out excess toothpaste to further minimize risk, the ADA said.

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