Oral care is extremely important for people of all ages – and that all starts out during childhood. Some of the biggest questions that dental professionals get are: What is the best toothpaste for kids? Should you be looking for cavity protection? Is adult toothpaste okay to use? Ultimately, the most important thing about toothpaste is for kids to actually want to use it. We often hear from parents about how their kids have a difficult time brushing because the toothpaste doesn’t taste good. Fortunately, there are many flavored toothpaste options available for kids to try!
From a dental perspective, there are a few additional factors to consider when choosing kids toothpaste. Fluoride content is something that needs to be considered, as that maximizes the preventative effect of the toothpaste itself. With all of the options available, it can be a daunting task for parents to choose the right toothpaste brands for their kids. Generally, we recommend parents start by finding a toothpaste that is approved by the American Dental Association (ADA).
Choosing the best toothpaste for your kids
Toothpaste is the gateway to proper oral health for your kids. Choosing the right kids toothpaste can be a challenge for many parents, but it’s an incredibly important decision for your child’s long-term wellbeing. After all, the human mouth can be a breeding ground for thousands of different kinds of bacteria – which, when not cleaned properly, can lead to plaque. If the plaque is not removed, it can accumulate and cause several oral health problems. These problems include – but are not limited to – tooth decay, cavities, bad breath, and gum disease. It is recommended that children brush their teeth twice a day.
There are several things you should look for when choosing the right toothpaste brands for your children.
Benefits of ADA approval in kids toothpaste
We mentioned that we strongly recommend choosing a toothpaste that has been approved by the ADA. Having the ADA Seal of Acceptance means that your child’s toothpaste has gone through a rigorous evaluation process to ensure its quality. In order to achieve this seal, the following criteria must be met:
- Scientific evidence demonstrates the safety and efficacy of the toothpaste, as reviewed by the ADA Council of Scientific Affairs.
- The toothpaste must have fluoride as an active ingredient.
- In addition to fluoride, toothpastes may contain other active ingredients to help lessen tooth sensitivity, whiten teeth, reduce gingivitis or tartar build-up, or prevent enamel erosion or bad breath.
- The toothpaste may not contain flavoring agents that cause or contribute to tooth decay (sugar, for example).
All of this means that your child’s toothpaste has been objectively reviewed, tested, and approved for safety and efficacy. Your child’s pediatric dentist can also be a helpful resource in finding the right toothpaste.
Benefits of fluoride in your child’s toothpaste
One of the primary factors in achieving the ADA Seal of Acceptance is having fluoride as an active ingredient in the toothpaste. But why is fluoride so important? Fluoride can help protect teeth against cavities and plaque build-up.
When you are choosing a baby toothpaste or toddler toothpaste, you should very carefully monitor use. Swallowing too much fluoride is not healthy, so the amount needs to be controlled. The recommended amount of fluoride toothpaste for children under three is a small smear, while older children should use a pea-sized amount. This is because younger children are generally unable to properly spit out their toothpaste.
A brief primer on fluoride in toothpaste
If you are taking the time to really read the labels on toothpaste, you will notice that some say Sodium Monofluorophosphate (0.84% Na2PFO3) and some say Sodium Fluoride (0.24% NaF). Either way they both have 0.15% w/v fluoride ion. But what does it mean?
The fluoride ion comes from the element fluorine, which is the 13th most abundant element in the earth’s crust. It is never encountered in its free state in nature; it exists only in combination with other elements as a fluoride compound. Fluoride is compounded in toothpastes with sodium or monofluorophosphate – but both act as a sort of vehicle for the fluoride. Once it gets in the saliva, it separates and can be incorporated by the tooth enamel to make it stronger and more resistant to the acids that can eventually break down the tooth to create cavities.
Avoid harsh abrasives
Choosing an age-appropriate toothpaste is beneficial, because some adult toothpastes may contain harsh ingredients that are too aggressive for young tooth enamel. These abrasives are used to polish teeth and remove plaque – but they are better suited to adult teeth. Using an adult toothpaste when a child or toddler toothpaste would be more appropriate may end up eroding and wearing away the enamel in your child’s teeth. Be sure you are choosing a toothpaste that is gentle enough.
Consider the flavor of the toothpaste
One of the main reasons children complain about brushing their teeth is because they don’t think the toothpaste tastes good. If the flavor is palatable to a young child, he or she will be more excited about the routine of brushing their teeth. Minty adult toothpastes can be too overwhelming for children, so what should you look for? Many children’s toothpastes come in fun fruit flavors – that may even taste like your child’s favorite fruit! There are fun toothpaste flavors like strawberry or bubblegum that will have your child looking forward to brushing their teeth. Finding a flavored toothpaste that your child is excited about will encourage them to develop good oral care habits from a young age.
Our picks for the best toothpaste for kids
Now that you know a little bit about what to look for in toothpaste for babies, toddlers, and kids, let’s review some of our favorite options. These options are all great for baby teeth – they won’t be too rough on the young enamel. They meet the criteria above, so you can rest assured that you’re choosing a great toothpaste for your child. Any of the below options will have your child excited to grab a toothbrush and get brushing!
Kid’s Crest toothpaste is a tried and true option that is trusted by parents and kids everywhere. One of the main benefits of Kid’s Crest is that it comes in a wide variety of flavors that kids enjoy. The flavor options include things such as Bubblegum, Strawberry Rush, and the ever-popular Sparkle Fun. With the word “fun” right there in the title, it’s sure to get your kids excited about their oral care routine.
Colgate for Kids
Colgate is a well-known toothpaste brand that is doing excellent things in the children’s toothpaste space. The toothpaste tubes are often decorated with some of your kid’s favorite characters – from Minions to Elsa to everything in between. In addition to toothpaste tubes that are kid-friendly, Colgate also comes in many fun flavors like Mild Bubble Fruit, Strawberry Smash, and Watermelon Burst.
Though not a household name (yet!), Hello Toothpaste has a huge variety of flavors and options that will fit your family. They have options that are coconut oil-based, in addition to charcoal and hemp-based natural toothpastes. Many families are choosing more natural options when it comes to oral health, and Hello Toothpaste surely fits that bill. They offer flavors like watermelon, strawberry, and blue raspberry. And, in addition to the great kid-pleasing flavors, parents will be happy to know that Hello Toothpaste is vegan and cruelty free, as well as BPA-free and phthalate-free.
Kids tend to like sweet flavors, and this toothpaste is sweetened by erythritol, which naturally helps to prevent bacteria from sticking to teeth. Erythritol also aids in slowing the formation of plaque.
This toothpaste is also SLS-free. SLS, or sodium lauryl sulfate, is a chemical compound that functions as a foaming agent in many personal care products. It’s largely responsible for the foam created in toothpaste and shampoo. Some brushers that are prone to allergies or sensitive to sulfates may be better off choosing SLS-free toothpastes like Hello Toothpaste.
Burt’s Bees for Kids
Burt’s Bees is a trusted brand for a wide variety of personal care items. And they are really doing something special with their line of kid’s toothpastes. They are committed to ensuring that their products are not tested on animals – which is something that is important to many consumers.
As far as dental health is concerned, Burt’s Bees for Kids is free of any harsh or damaging ingredients that may concern parents. It is made without sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), triclosan & parabens, artificial flavors & sweeteners, preservatives, dyes (blue, red, & yellow), and plastic microbeads. When you take all of those things out of the equation, you are left with a safe and effective natural toothpaste option for kids.
But what about the flavor? It comes in fun flavors like Fruit Fusion – but that’s not all. Burt’s Bees for Kids contains sweetener from the stevia plant, which gives the toothpaste a pleasant taste that kids love.
Tom’s of Maine Children’s Toothpaste
Another excellent natural toothpaste option for kids comes from Tom’s of Maine. This toothpaste is free of artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives – so it definitely plays to a parent’s sensibilities as far as their child’s oral health is concerned. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have a silly side. The tagline is: “Silly Enough for Kids – Good Enough for Moms and Dads!” and it certainly lives up to that.
In fun flavors like Silly Strawberry, kids will enjoy brushing their teeth with Tom’s of Maine. The delicious real fruit flavor appeals to children’s tastes without using artificial sparkles or flavors.
Tom’s of Maine is also proudly not tested on animals and free of any animal ingredients.
Aquafresh is a name that’s been around for quite some time. Their kids toothpaste offering comes in a kid-pleasing bubble mint flavor.
One of the most unique features of this toothpaste, though, actually has nothing to do with the toothpaste at all. The unique tube design is especially accessible for little hands. Aquafresh Kids features a stand-up pump so kids can feel more independent during their oral care routine. However, toothpaste dispensing should always be left up to the adult to prevent from dispensing too much.
Tanner’s Tasty Paste
Though not yet stamped with the ADA Seal of Acceptance, it should be noted that Tanner’s Tasty Paste does include fluoride. That makes it an excellent option for your child’s toothpaste needs.
The aptly named Tasty Paste truly is delicious – it tastes like vanilla ice cream. It’s a unique flavor that many kids love. And, though it’s delicious, Tanner’s Tasty Paste does not contain saccharin, sodium lauryl sulfate, artificial flavors, or artificial colors and dyes. The delicious flavor comes from the sweetening agent xylitol.
Start an oral care routine early
With all of these great kids toothpaste options, there’s no excuse for not implementing an oral care routine with your child. Here are a few tips to get your kids excited about using their new toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Set a good example yourself by showing your child that you also regularly brush and floss your own teeth. Kids are always eager to copy their parents’ habits.
- You can turn toothbrushing into a game by brushing during the commercial break of your child’s favorite TV show. Brush one quadrant of the mouth per 30 second commercial break.
- If your child has a favorite song, you can play that during their tooth brushing routine. This associates tooth brushing with something that they already enjoy.
- Make sure you choose the right tools. This means having an age-appropriate toothbrush and flossing tools.
Talk to your pediatric dentist today
There are many options out there to ensure your child’s oral health. From the moment your child gets his or her first tooth, you can begin forming those healthy oral care habits. You can create many of those habits at home from a very early age. The earlier kids understand how important taking care of their teeth is, the better off they will be in the long run. Talk to your pediatric dentist for tips and advice on choosing the best toothpaste for kids and best course of oral care for your child.