How to Choose the Best Baby and Kids’ Toothpaste for Your Family

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There are so many baby toothpaste options, where do you even start? And when you start to look at kids’ toothpaste for children of different ages, things don’t get any easier. Here, we’ll give you the information you need to choose the best toothpaste for kids and babies in the UK, plus we have some product recommendations.

child toothpaste toothbrush
Children need different types of toothpaste as they grow up

With lots of things you want to get right, we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What makes a good children’s toothpaste
  • The difference between milk teeth toothpaste and adult toothpaste
  • Whether you should use fluoride-free toothpaste for babies
  • The best toothpastes for kids and babies of all ages

Getting your kids’ dental routine right from the start is important for their overall oral hygiene. We have another article about choosing the best toothbrush for your child and a detailed guide on how to prevent tooth decay, which you might also find useful. But for now, let’s look at kids’ toothpaste!

How to choose toothpaste for children: with or without fluoride?

There are a few different things to consider when buying toothpaste for babies and kids. One of the most important questions you might have is whether you should use a fluoride-free children’s toothpaste.

fluoride kids toothpaste
Fluoride helps strengthen children’s teeth but shouldn’t be swallowed

Fluoride is a naturally occurring element that is present in water, soil, and the air. It has many benefits for your teeth, such as:

  • Preventing cavities
  • Strengthening tooth enamel
  • Reversing early stages of tooth decay
  • Limiting plaque bacteria in the mouth
  • Slowing mineral loss in tooth enamel

The NHS in the UK, as well as the leading dental association in the USA (the ADA), both recommend using fluoride kids and baby toothpastes. It’s a good idea to check how much fluoride is in the kids’ toothpaste you choose; the recommended amounts balance effectiveness with safety.

Here is a breakdown of the recommended amount of fluoride for child and baby toothpastes. The measure of fluoride is parts per million, or ppm, and this is the key number to look for on the tube.

Age Fluoride concentration Amount to use
Children under 3 At least 1000ppm A smear
Children 3-6 At least 1000ppm A pea-sized amount
Children over 6 and adults 1350ppm – 1500ppm A pea-sized amount

As well as being recommended by the NHS, these amounts have been proven safe by a scientific study that looked at the data from lots of other studies.

That said, children still shouldn’t swallow fluoride toothpaste. While occasionally swallowing a small amount while brushing teeth is unlikely to cause any harm, regularly consuming high volumes of fluoride can lead to a condition called fluorosis, where the teeth develop white spots or become discoloured. 

Supervise brushing until your child is old enough to be able to brush all their teeth correctly and spit out all the toothpaste – usually around age 6 or 7.

If children ingest a larger amount of fluoride toothpaste, for example if they deliberately eat it from the tube, they might experience an upset stomach. Speak to your doctor or call 111 if you have any concerns.

What about baby toothpaste with fluoride?

It’s natural to be concerned about your young baby swallowing baby toothpaste, whether it contains fluoride or not. Most children develop their spit reflex around the age of three years old, so your baby won’t be able to brush their teeth like you quite yet.

Minimise the risk by only using a smear of toothpaste, about the size of a grain of rice, when you first start brushing your baby’s teeth. Parents who are really concerned about controlling how much fluoride their child swallows can opt for fluoride-free toothpaste. We’ll give you some options for fluoride-free baby toothpaste further down.

The video below has some good advice for brushing your baby or toddler’s teeth – even when they aren’t in the mood for it!

Should you be cleaning your toddler's teeth? The answer is yes! Natalie of Confessions of a Crummy Mummy walks us through how to clean your toddler's teeth (which can be tough) - and why their teeth need special attention. Remember: Children 6 and under should always be supervised when brushing. Find Natalie at crummymummy.co.uk or on twitter @mrsnataliebrown Like this? Subscribe to the YouTube channel for more Mumsnet content. New videos every week: http://tiny.mn/1k47ooT Want to get involved? Join the Mumsnet Influencers' network - just email us at [email protected] Like Mumsnet on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mumsnet Follow Mumsnet on Twitter: @mumsnettowers Follow Mumsnet on Instagram: @mumsnet

Is the best toothpaste for kids different to adult toothpaste?

baby and toddler toothpaste
Babies and children need special toothpastes

One of the key differences between toothpaste for kids and adults is the fluoride content. Aside from that, adult toothpaste might also be more abrasive and have stronger flavours.

Lots of adults use whitening toothpastes, however using whitening toothpaste for kids isn’t a good idea. These types of toothpaste are rougher on the teeth and could damage children’s teeth because their enamel is thinner.

If your child has stained teeth, assess their diet for strongly coloured foods and speak with their dentist if you’re concerned. Any whitening treatments should only be carried out once your child has a full mouth of adult teeth.

What are the best baby toothpastes (0-2 years)?

As soon as your little one’s first teeth appear, it’s important to brush them twice a day to protect against decay. However, it can be hard to know which toothpaste is best for a baby or toddler. There are certain things to look for in a toothpaste for babies under 2 years, and below we’ve picked out some of the best options to make that choice easier for you.

Aquafresh Milk Teeth toothpaste

aquafresh milk teeth toothpaste 0-2
This gentle toothpaste is suitable for babies and toddlers up to 2 years

This Aquafresh baby toothpaste has a fluoride level of 1000 ppm, which matches the official guidelines on what to use. The toothpaste has a light minty flavour and there are no artificial flavours colours or flavours.

One Amazon reviewer said of this baby toothpaste, “Excellent baby toothpaste. Baby likes it and readily allows his teeth to be brushed. It is safe, has no minty or tangy toothpaste taste and would also last long.”

Natural baby toothpaste

Green People make an organic baby toothpaste without fluoride. Their formulation is non-toxic so there shouldn’t be any concerns if your baby has a habit of swallowing whilst you help them brush their teeth. Plus, the orangey taste is great for little ones who don’t like mint.

One happy mother commented in her Amazon review, “…my little boy loves the taste. He’s used it since his first tooth around 6 months and still likes chewing on his toothbrush with this on it now aged 18 months. I don’t have to worry about him swallowing it as its natural and non toxic.”

This toothpaste is suitable for babies and children of all ages so there’s no need to switch once they reach 3 years old.

Colgate baby toothpaste

As part of their Smiles range, Colgate have their Smiles Baby 0-2 Years toothpaste. This has the recommended level of fluoride at 1000 ppm and a mild flavour for your baby’s sensitive mouth.

Weleda baby toothpaste

Weleda is a Swiss company that makes plant-based health and wellbeing products. Their fluoride-free toothpaste for babies and kids has a spearmint flavour and all non-toxic ingredients, so it shouldn’t be anything to worry about if your baby swallows it.

The packaging may not be particularly child-friendly, but plenty of people say this is their favourite natural kids’ toothpaste.

What’s the best toothpaste for kids aged 3-6?

As your child gets older, they should be able to spit better and the chances of them swallowing toothpaste will reduce. However, at this age you should still supervise them as they brush and help them learn how to brush thoroughly.

They might not like the minty flavours you’re used to with your toothpaste, so we’ve included some non-mint children’s toothpaste options here too.

Colgate kids’ toothpaste

colgate children's toothpaste strawberry
This Colgate kids’ toothpaste is available in strawberry and watermelon flavours

Colgate Kids Cavity Protection Toothpaste has a fruity, bubble gum flavour – great for kids who aren’t into minty tastes.

A more premium Colgate children’s toothpaste option is their liquid gel toothpastes, which contain 1100 ppm fluoride to protect against cavities. The strawberry and watermelon flavours with bright and funky packaging should also help make brushing fun. 

Aquafresh children’s toothpaste

Aquafresh Little Teeth Toothpaste has 1450 ppm fluoride and a slightly minty flavour. The red, white and blue stripes add a fun touch to brushing. It’s aimed at children aged 3-5 but is fine for older kids too thanks to the higher fluoride concentration.

It gets high praise from one reviewer: “My eight-year son will only use this! Loves taste, very fussy with his teeth! Tried others and he won’t touch because of taste! Good toothpaste and great reviews off his dentist too!”

AloeDent children’s toothpaste

AloeDent make a fluoride-free children’s toothpaste in a tantalising strawberry flavour. It’s vegetarian and vegan friendly, and uses tea tree oil as a natural antiseptic in the formula.

Brush Baby toothpaste

Yet more non-mint children’s toothpaste options are available, with Brush-Baby Tutti Frutti Toothpaste for 3-6 year-olds.

Their toothpaste contains 1350 ppm of fluoride but is SLS-free as well as being vegetarian and vegan friendly. This makes it a good option for parents who want the benefits of fluoride but prefer to avoid certain other ingredients.

The best kids’ toothpaste for ages 7 and up

Once your child is seven years old, they should have developed full control over their reflex to swallow (as well as the motor skills to brush correctly) and at this point you should be able to leave them to brush their teeth on their own. While it is fine for them to use a pea-sized amount of adult toothpaste at this age, they may still prefer a more child-friendly option.

Aquafresh have a third tier in their children’s toothpaste range suited to 6-8 year-olds who have a mixture of baby and adult teeth. It’s specially formulated to offer extra protection when new adult teeth are more vulnerable.

oral b frozen toothpaste
Cartoon characters can make toothpaste more appealing

There are also character branded toothpastes available that will probably be more appealing than the standard packaging of grown-up toothpaste. For instance, this Oral B kids’ toothpaste has Frozen characters on the tube, making it a popular choice among many children.

Children this age may still not be keen on the minty flavours in most adult toothpastes. A good option if this is the case is OraNurse Unflavoured Toothpaste. It has 1450 ppm of fluoride which is well within the guideline levels for children of this age, and there shouldn’t be any complaints about the taste.

Can I Get a Kids’ Toothpaste Dispenser?

kids toothpaste dispenser
Keep everything organised and time your brushing

Once you’ve got a brightly coloured brush, and a tasty flavoured kids’ toothpaste, you should be well on your way to getting your children excited about their oral hygiene. To add the finishing touch, you can consider a kids’ toothpaste dispenser.

This toothpaste dispenser is really practical for your kids and the rest of the family. It has:

  • Space for two different toothpastes – great if your kids like different flavours to you
  • A clock to help kids time their brushing and get those good habits formed early on
  • Storage for five brushes – plenty of space for all the family

“WOW, an amazing product that encourages children of a young age to start cleaning their teeth by themselves. Extremely easy to clean as majority of pieces come apart to clean and easy to re-assemble. A fantastic product for any bathroom, highly recommend,” enthused a recent reviewer on Amazon.

Conclusion

Every parent wants the best for their child’s teeth, and choosing the best child or baby toothpaste for your little one is important. Although it’s perfectly understandable that you’ll want to investigate fluoride-free toothpaste for your kids, scientists and dentists agree that fluoride is beneficial to teeth and shouldn’t cause any harm if used correctly.

Make sure that you help your children use their toothpaste properly until they’re old enough to look after their teeth themselves. By choosing flavours that they like, you will keep them wanting to brush; and by picking the right fluoride levels you’ll make sure they protect themselves from cavities whilst waiting for their adult teeth to come through.

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Sources

NHS: Fluoride. Consulted 1st November 2019.

Healthline: Should You Be Worried About Fluoride Toothpaste? Consulted 1st November 2019.

ADA: Oral Health Topics: Toothpaste. Consulted 1st November 2019.

NCBI: Fluoride toothpaste efficacy and safety in children younger than 6 years: a systematic review. Consulted 1st November 2019.

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