Parents’ Guide to Toothpastes

Over 16 million American children have tooth decay, making it the most common childhood disease and resulting in over 51 million lost school hours per year! Since I know that my patients’ parents want to avoid cavities in their kiddos’ teeth, I’m going to go into the weeds of toothpaste options to help them select the right one for their child(ren).


What To Look For in a Toothpaste

There are several things to look for when choosing a toothpaste.


  1. The ADA Seal of Approval

The seal of approval will be prominently displayed on the box. This seal is your indication that the product has been tested by the ADA to ensure that it works.


  1. The Toothpaste Contains Fluoride

The American Dental Association has recommended fluoride-containing toothpaste for over 50 years because it has been proven to reduce cavities. The caveat? Be sure your child spits out all of it and completely rinses his or her mouth to avoid swallowing the fluoride toothpaste. Ingesting too much fluoride can cause fluorosis, a permanent staining of the adult teeth due to ingesting too much fluoride in childhood.


  1. The Toothpaste Tastes Good to Your Child

Since the goal is to get your child to brush twice a day for 2 minutes each time, it’s important that they like the taste of the toothpaste. That mint-flavored toothpaste that you enjoy as an adult may taste “too spicy” to a child. Kids’ toothpastes come in all kinds of kid-oriented flavors, like strawberry, bubblegum and others. Keep trying them until you find one that your kiddo will enjoy.


  1. Avoid the Abrasives in Toothpastes for Kids

While we do need some abrasive ingredients to eliminate debris and surface stains on our teeth, these abrasives can damage a child’s enamel. This is especially true of whitening toothpastes that often contain silica gel, aluminum oxide, and magnesium and/or calcium carbonates. Check the label for these ingredients and avoid using whitening toothpaste on your child’s toothbrush.


The Bottom Line:

If you want your child to brush twice a day with the least amount of fuss, find a toothpaste in a flavor that he or she likes. Make sure it’s ADA approved.