The American Dental Association recommends that kids should begin using fluoride toothpastes early in life to help fight tooth decay.

The amount of candies, junk food and sweetened beverages kids today consume has drastically increased the risks of cavities and tooth decays. The American Dental Association (ADA) released a report recently suggesting kids should begin using fluoride toothpastes early in life to help fight tooth decay.

The organization's Council on Scientific Affairs (CSA) says that parents should make children under 3 years of age brush daily with a smear of fluoride toothpaste while pea-size quantity can be used for children between 3 and 6 years old. For children below the age of 2 years, the organization recommends using plain water to brush daily.

"For half a century, the ADA has recommended that patients use fluoride toothpaste to prevent cavities, and a review of scientific research shows that this holds true for all ages," said Edmond L. Truelove, D.D.S.,  chair of the Council on Scientific Affairs. "Approximately 25 percent of children have or had cavities before entering kindergarten, so it's important to provide guidance to caregivers on the appropriate use of fluoride toothpaste to help prevent their children from developing cavities."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more than 16 million children suffer from untreated tooth decay in the country. Additional oral problems result in children missing 51 million school hours and their parents losing 25 million work hours annually because they need to take care of their unwell child.

While the benefits of fluoride based toothpastes include strengthening tooth enamel and re-mineralizing tooth decay, they can also have some adverse effects on children if swallowed in large qualities. The health risks include permanent tooth discoloration (dental fluorosis), stomach ailments, acute toxicity, skin rashes (perioral dermatitis), and impairment in glucose metabolism.

Owing to this, in 1997, the FDA ordered toothpaste manufacturers to add a poison warning on all fluoride toothpastes sold in the U.S. The warning reads:

"Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately."

Crest, the toothpaste brand owned by Procter & Gamble, has now come up with a "sweet" alternative to fluoride based toothpastes. Earlier this year, they revealed plans to release a new chocolate flavored toothpaste named "Mint Chocolate", USA Today reported.

Yes! Chocolates and oral health may not seem like the best combination but a previous study by University of Texas Health Science Center researchers found that chocolate contains an extract called theobromine, which is more effective in treating teeth cavities than fluoride.

The report, "Fluoride toothpaste use for young children," and the results of the systematic review, "Fluoride toothpaste efficacy and safety in children younger than 6 years," are published in the February 2014 issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association. The study was funded by the ADA which also suggests that a mere "smear" of flouride toothpaste is "less likely to cause fluorosis."