Since children can be picky about tastes and parents selective about what goes into their child’s mouth, choosing a toothpaste can be a daunting task! When your little one reveals their first few teeth and its time to choose a toothpaste, how do you pick the best one to care for your child’s smile? The store shelves are full of many different kinds of toothpastes, which are all meant to do the same thing, right? Selecting a proper size toothbrush and a nourishing, yet cleansing brand of toothpaste is the first step in maintaining a healthy smile, so here is a quick guide to help you decide which toothpaste is best appropriated for your child.
Chose an age appropriate toothpaste
When your child’s first tooth appears, its time to find a toothpaste! A good place to start would be in the children’s section of the oral care aisle. Children’s toothpaste is formulated with ingredients appropriate for young teeth and gums, unlike adult toothpaste with unnecessary whitening agents and often too harsh abrasives for kids. Still, there are many options! The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends using just a smear of toothpaste until 3 years of age, and a pea-size amount for older children. Check labels since some toothpastes are intended for children 6 years and older.
Look for the ADA Seal
When it comes to products such as mouthrinse and toothpaste, your best source for dental product suggestions would be your pediatric dentist, but apart from this, toothpaste with the familiar American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance is a good choice since it has been tested for effectiveness and proper ingredients. Products with this seal must renew every three years, thus maintaining the recommended standards.
Watch out for harsh ingredients
Some toothpastes contain harsh abrasives which can wear away young tooth enamel, which is why choosing an age-appropriate paste is important. These abrasives include phosphates and alumina. Abrasives are necessary to remove plaque and polish teeth, but some can be too harsh on young enamel, causing sensitivity. Look for a toothpaste that will be gentle on your child’s teeth.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is an ingredient added to give toothpaste foaming action, however, it can cause mouth ulcers (also called canker sores) in some children. If your child has developed these painful sores, consider switching to a SLS-free toothpaste or if you are introducing toothpaste, opt for one without this ingredient to avoid the potential ailment. Enamel Saver is one brand popular among children that is SLS free and also comes in various flavors.
Look for fluoride
The American Dental Association revised their guidelines in April of this year concerning the use of fluoridated toothpaste for infants under the age of 3. Previously, it was recommended that children under the age of 2 use non fluoride toothpaste, and a small amount for children between 2 -6. Now, regardless of age, all children should use fluoridated toothpaste. The important thing to remember here is how much. The recommended amount for children under 3 is just a smear, and the usual pea size amount for older children.
It is up to you as the parent to decide what amount and when your child gets fluoride in their toothpaste. Keep in mind that children under 2 are unable to spit out their toothpaste and tend to swallow a small amount. If your child tends to swallow, take caution and give them a fluoride-free toothpaste until they are able to spit out remaining toothpaste.
Though flavor is not of a dental health concern, it is for your child and their willingness to brush! Some kids cannot tolerate the taste of a minty toothpaste, which may feel “spicy” to them or tingly and “cold.” Opt for a toothpaste with fun children’s flavors such as watermelon or strawberry. These tend to have a mild, palatable taste that will encourage your child to brush their teeth. Sampling a few toothpastes may be what you have to do, but it is worth the effort of finding a flavor that will make your child ask to have their teeth brushed!
Toothpaste is only as good as the toothbrush
While you’re shopping for toothpaste, pick out a toothbrush that is age appropriate for your child. Children’s toothbrushes are often labeled for the appropriate age. If your child’s toothbrush is too big, it may cause them to gag or won’t reach their teeth in the back of their mouth. If its too small, they may miss cleaning much of the surface area on their teeth.
If you prefer the natural toothpastes
Natural products and diets are popular, now more than ever. If you prefer to use natural toothpaste for your family, there are some choices for you that are ADA approved! Tom’s of Maine carries a variety of toothpastes for the whole family. They have both fluoridated and unfluoridated toothpaste for children as well as adult toothpastes in many flavors and purposes, from whitening to tartar control.
Finding the right toothpaste doesn’t have to be a challenge if you know your family’s needs and seek advice from your pediatric dentist. Our toothbrush and toothpaste is something most of us use 365 days a year, hopefully twice in each of those days, which amounts to about 730 brushings a year! Take the time to find a good toothbrush and toothpaste for your kids that works well for them and that they can enjoy! Happy brushing!