NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New guidelines from the American Dental Association say children should begin using toothpaste with fluoride as soon as they get their first tooth.

As CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez, the recommendation is aimed at preventing cavities, the most common chronic condition for children. Previous guidelines recommended fluoride toothpaste only after age 2.

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“Not having the fluoride, you would be more susceptible to decay as the teeth wear down and lose their certain minerals,” said Dr. Mark S. Hochberg.

For kids under 3, parents should use just a smear of toothpaste. For children 3 to 6, a pea-sized amount is suggested.

Hochberg said it’s important to use only small amounts of fluoride because, when swallowed, it can discolor teeth.

“As they are forming chronically, ingesting fluoride causes fluorsis,” Hochberg said.

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Shari Misher-Stenzler, a mother of two, said it’s all about being diligent. Her 11-year-old daughter, Kylie, and 9-year-old son, Colby, have not had any cavities.

“It’s pretty standard and old school — brushing their teeth routinely,” she said.

Experts agree that daily brushing and flossing, along with regular checkups, are the best way to keep children cavity-free.

Dentists say a children should receive their first dental checkup as early as their first tooth appears or no later than their first birthday.

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