In recent years, the variety of toothpastes available in different brands and flavors specifically customized for children has significantly increased. The multitude of choices, if fact, can actually make selecting the best toothpaste for the dental health of your child a more difficult process than expected. Choosing the right toothpaste however, is an important factor in promoting good oral hygiene habits and in maintaining the healthiest smile possible for a child. Our dental topics page provides other information on tips & safety during pediatric dentistry.
Tips For Choosing The Best Toothpaste For Kids
What Is Toothpaste Exactly?
Simply put, toothpaste is a product that increases and maintains oral hygiene. Health increasing contents include antibacterial agents, fluoride, and mild abrasives. The mild abrasives, with the help of a toothbrush, help scrub off stains on the surface of the teeth, by lightly buffing them away. The antibacterial agents decrease the quantity of bacteria in the mouth, thwarting bad breath and the formation of cavity causing plaque on the surface of the teeth and gum line. The fluoride helps fortify the hard outer enamel surface of the teeth to help protect them from cavities.
Why Is Toothpaste So Important?
The human mouth houses thousands of different kinds of bacteria, which group together and create a film over the teeth known as plaque. If this plaque is not removed sufficiently, it can accumulate over time and cause a number of dental and oral health issues like tooth decay (cavities), gum disease, and halitosis (bad breath). Brushing teeth twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste significantly decreases the risk of developing these problems, helps create a lasting healthy smile, and promotes overall health and well being in general.
To help you choose the best toothpaste for your child and their teeth, consider the following guidelines:
- Choose a toothpaste with the ADA seal—It is important to choose a toothpaste that has been approved as safe and effective product in maintaining optimum dental health. To ensure you are buying a product that is recommended by the American Dental Association, look for their seal of approval, which can be located on the toothpaste box and tube. The ADA seal ensures the toothpaste has been objectively tested and approved as safe by the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. The most reliable informant for dental product recommendations is your child’s pediatric dentist. As a specialist, your pediatric dentist can provide guidance and direction in choosing the best toothpaste for your child.
- Dodge harsh abrasives—Choosing an age befitting toothpaste for your child is actually quite critical, because some toothpastes consist of harsh ingredients that may erode and wear away young tooth enamel, the protective outer coating of the teeth. Abrasives are key in polishing and removing plaque from the teeth, but large amounts of phosphates and alumina found in some toothpastes, for example, can be too strong for young enamel and may actually cause young teeth to become too sensitive. To choose a toothpaste that is gentle enough for you’re your child’s teeth, ask your pediatric dentist which toothpastes are age appropriate and most beneficial for your particular child.
- Look for fluoride—According to the American Dental Association (ADA), children of all ages should use toothpaste that contains fluoride, which helps protect teeth against cavities and plaque build up. Ingesting too much fluoride is not healthy, especially for young children, so the amount of fluoridated toothpaste used must be controlled. The advised amount for children under three years of age is a ‘smear,’ while a pea-sized amount is recommended for older kids. Children under two years of age generally are unable to spit out their toothpaste, so take caution, as kids this young may swallow small amounts of fluoride when a parent or caregiver is brushing their teeth. Ask your pediatric dentist about fluoridated toothpaste for children under three years of age.
- Take flavor into consideration—Though flavor may not be considered technically relevant to dental health, choosing a toothpaste that tastes good to a child helps get him or her more excited about the routine of brushing their teeth. Some kids dislike the taste of minty toothpastes, because they feel too ‘spicy’ on the tongue or make the mouth tingle. While most adults prefer these flavors, kids tend to become more willing to brush more consistently and often when ‘fun’ toothpaste flavors, such as strawberry or bubble gum are offered. Finding a flavor your child is excited about encourages them to practice good dental hygiene habits that will hopefully last a lifetime. In fact, letting kids pick their own flavors may even have them asking to brush their teeth more often!