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Best Fluoride and Fluoride-Free Toothpaste for Kids and Babies

Contributors:  Natalie Asmussen

Looking for the best toothpaste for kids and babies in the US? Here, we’ll give you the information you need to choose the best toothpaste for kids and babies in the US, plus we have some product recommendations.

organic toothpaste  for kids
Children may 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 the best children's toothpaste
  • The difference between baby toothpaste and adult toothpaste
  • Whether you should use fluoride-free toothpaste for babies
  • The best toothpastes for kids and babies of all ages
  • Your options for organic and natural toothpaste for kids

Getting your children's oral health 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 to tooth decay, which you might also find useful.

If you're short on time, you can see our top picks in the table below:

Brand

Active ingredient

Flavor

Buy

Dr. Brite

Hydroxyapatite

Berrylicious

Colgate

Fluoride

Mild bubble fruit

Crest

Fluoride

Strawberry

Tom's

Fluoride

Strawberry

Act

Fluoride

Bubblegum

Fluoride-free toothpaste for kids

In this article, we'll look at both fluoride and fluoride-free options. You should know that it is now recommended that kids' toothpaste contain fluoride. However, if you are intent on using a toothpaste without fluoride, then our top pick is Dr. Brite.

This natural oral health brand have three kinds of toothpaste for kids:

Instead of fluoride, these toothpastes have hydroxyapatite, a mineral that makes up 97% of tooth enamel, and that works to strengthen teeth and protect them.

natural kids toothpaste
Naturally soothes and strengthens

Best kids' toothpaste

Dr. Brite Antiplaque Toothpaste

The earlier you help your kids learn how to keep their teeth plaque-free and healthy the better, which is why Dr. Brite's antiplaque toothpaste is infused with vitamin C and other natural, plant-based ingredients that eliminate plaque, freshen breath and soothe gums.

This is a fluoride-free kids toothpaste, and features hydroxyapatite to help remineralize teeth, while a fruity berrylicious flavor means kids will actually look forward to brushing. You can get 10% off when you use code DRBRITE10.

Colgate kids' toothpaste

children's toothpaste
One of the best kid's toothpaste

Colgate Kids Cavity Protection Toothpaste is a fluoride toothpaste for kids that has a fruity, bubble gum flavor—great for kids who aren't into minty tastes.

A more premium Colgate children's toothpaste with fluoride is their liquid gel toothpastes. These kids' fluoride toothpastes contain .24% (1100 ppm) fluoride to protect against cavities. The strawberry and watermelon flavors with bright and funky packaging should also help make brushing fun. 

Crest kids toothpaste

Best kids' fluoride toothpaste
Strawberry-flavored

Another fluoride kids toothpaste without a minty flavor is this Crest Kids Toothpaste. It tastes of strawberries, making it a popular choice among kids – as well as parents who want a toothpaste that will help prevent cavities in their children.

The packaging isn't so child-friendly, but would suit older children who have grown out of wanting cartoons on everything.

Tom's kids' toothpaste

Tom's toothpaste for kids
Natural kids' toothpaste

Tom's of Maine makes a natural toothpaste for kids. It has .13% w/v fluoride to protect your child's teeth from cavities. This Tom's children's toothpaste is also ADA-approved, has a fruity strawberry flavor, and contains no artificial colors or flavors. 

Tom's of Maine children's toothpastes come in other flavors as well such as orange-mango and wicked cool

ACT Kids' Bubblegum

kids fluoride toothpaste
Bubblegum flavor makes kids want to brush

ACT makes a kids fluoride toothpaste with a yummy bubblegum flavor. Like all fluoride toothpaste, it is designed to prevent cavities and fight plaque buildup. And thanks to the bubblegum taste, kids will look forward to brushing.

The tube is easy to squeeze for kids' small hands and the flat-top cap makes it easy to stand on its head. You can get the toothpaste along with a matching mouthwash.

Best baby toothpaste

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 is the best baby toothpaste.

The ADA now recommends that you use fluoride toothpaste with your baby as well as older children, (albeit a very small amount). Even so, you'll be hard-pressed to find baby toothpaste with fluoride.

We've listed some of our recommendations for baby toothpastes below, and while you're searching you should consider the following criteria:

  • Use of toothpaste including fluoride toothpaste is advised once the first tooth erupts which can be as early as 4 months but is usually around 6 months old.
  • A smear layer similar to the size of a grain of rice is advised for fluoridated toothpaste.
  • No matter what toothpaste is used, caregivers are advised to use a small damp cloth to wipe excess off after brushing.
baby toothpaste organic
Organic baby toothpaste

Radius baby toothpaste

Radius makes 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 while you help them brush their teeth. Plus, the coconut-banana flavor in this organic baby toothpaste is great for little ones who don't like mint.

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

nonfluoride toothpaste for kids
This natural toothpaste for kids and babies has a mild fruit flavor

Tom's baby toothpaste

Tom's baby toothpaste is fluoride-free and specially formulated for babies and toddlers 3 to 24 months old, and is safe if swallowed. It has a no-mess top and a delightful mild fruit flavor. Your children can practice brushing with this toothpaste so they can develop long-lasting oral hygiene habits. 

Weleda baby toothpaste

natural toothpaste for kids
Natural toothpastes for kids

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

The case for fluoride in kids' toothpaste

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 toothpaste for kids.

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 American Dental Association (ADA), as well as the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, both recommend using fluoride kids and baby toothpastes

Of course, your baby will probably end up swallowing a lot of the toothpaste in their mouth. To ensure that they don't swallow a harmful amount, the ADA recommends using a smear of fluoride toothpaste for your baby; no larger than a grain of rice for children under three years of age. Have a look at the table below for a summary of recommended toothpaste amounts based on age.

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

Age

Amount to use

Children under 3

A smear (size of a grain of rice)

Children 3-6

A pea-sized amount

Children over 6 and adults

A pea-sized amount

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

If you are concerned about fluoride therapy for children, you can read the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry's latest recommendations here, including reccommending the use of fluoridated toothpaste in children (a smear for children under three and a pea-sized amount in children three to six).

That said, children swallowing toothpaste with fluoride should be avoided. 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 discolored. 

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 911 if you think it's an emergency.

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. That means your baby won't be able to brush their teeth like you quite yet.

Minimize 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—straight from the dentist's mouth!

Is the best toothpaste for kids different than adult toothpaste?

baby toothpaste without fluoride
Babies and children may require 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 flavors.

The amount of fluoride in toothpaste is usually regulated by country. On average, the amount of fluoride in children's toothpaste ranges from 100 ppm to 1,400 ppm, and in adults' toothpaste it's from 1,000 ppm to 1,500 ppm.

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 colored 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.

Conclusion

best kids toothpaste
It's important to find the best kids' toothpaste for your child's oral health

Every parent wants the best for their child's teeth, and choosing the best children's 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 flavors 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 while waiting for their adult teeth to come through.

Don't forget to take care of your grownup teeth either—good oral hygiene is critical at any age. Have a look at our article for the best toothpaste for adults for natural, fluoride and whitening options to fit your needs. And you can read about the best fluoride-free toothpaste if that interests you too.

FAQs

Can adults use kids' toothpaste?

Many adults wonder if they can use kids' toothpaste, usually because they are fed up with too much mint flavor. Well, whatever your reason, you can certainly use kids' toothpaste. Just make sure that it has between 0.22% (1000 ppm) and 0.312% (1450 ppm) fluoride.

Can you buy fluoride toothpaste for babies?

You may be wondering if you can buy fluoride toothpaste for babies since the ADA recommends that you use a small amount (grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste with babies as soon as their teeth erupt. There currently really aren't any toothpastes for babies under two years of age that contain fluoride on the market.

So if you do want to use fluoride toothpaste for your baby, you can use a kids' toothpaste, like this popular one from Colgate. Before using toothpaste with fluoride, you should consult your child's doctor or dentist to make sure that it's ok. 

When should you start using toothpaste for your baby?

Many in the professional community are saying that you should start gently brushing your child's gums with an extra-soft baby toothbrush before their first teeth erupt. And once their first baby teeth erupt, it's a good idea to start using toothpaste. Brushing gums and teeth for two minutes is advised.

Whether you want to use fluoride toothpaste for your baby is up to you, although the ADA says that using a small, grain of rice-sized amount is a good idea.

Once your child is able to spit out their toothpaste, limited rinsing is recommended to prevent diluting the protective benefits of the toothpaste.

What is the best toothpaste for 2-year-olds?

All toothpastes for young children will have gentle ingredients and a gentle flavor. Some good options include Dr. Brite's line of natural toothpastes for toddlers and babies. Weleda also makes a fluoride-free toothpaste for babies, and Radius, makes some of the best organic baby toothpaste.

Even though none of these kids' natural toothpaste options contain fluoride, many dentists don't recommend baby toothpaste without fluoride, because fluoride is so good for your teeth.

As long as you only use only a tiny, rice-sized amount when brushing your child's teeth, it should be OK. But, there aren't many baby toothpastes available with fluoride, so you'd have to have a look at toothpaste for kids a bit older.

Best Fluoride and Fluoride-Free Toothpaste for Kids and Babies
4 (80%) 4 vote[s]


Contributors:
Natalie used to work as a Community Health Worker and Health Insurance Navigator. She continues to follow her passion for connecting people with the healthcare they need by writing informative content about dentistry and medicine.
Medically reviewed by:
Dr. Karen Kemp-Prosterman is a practicing pedodontist with over 17 years of experience. She completed her dental education at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN in 2002. She is a Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, and among other achievements is currently the Founder and CEO of PGP Dental Consultancy in Stamford, Connecticut.
Dr. Angela S. Evanson obtained her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Minnesota. She completed a pediatric mini-residency at the University of the Pacific Dental School. Dr. Evanson has provided quality dental care since 1994. She currently practices dentistry at Angela Evanson DDS in Parker, Colorado. She is a member of the American Dental Association, Colorado Dental Association, the Metro Denver Dental Society, the Academy of General Dentistry, the Colorado Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the American Equilibration Society. Dr. Evanson volunteers with KIND and participates in the American Dental Association’s annual Give-Kids-a-Smile program.
Sources

NHS: Fluoride. Consulted 28th November 2019.

ADA: Oral Health Topics: Toothpaste. Consulted 28th November 2019.

NCBI: Fluoride toothpaste efficacy and safety in children younger than 6 years: a systematic review. Consulted 28th November 2019.

ScienceDirect: Sodium Fluoride. Consulted 28th November 2019.

AAPD.org: Fluoride Therapy. Consulted 19th November 2022.