Choosing the right toothpaste for your kid is a lot like choosing the right brand of shoe. You know using product is important, but with so many choices, it can be difficult to discern the "best" choice. The truth is that the toothpaste you choose is only of secondary importance. Getting your child to form a regular brushing habit. Daily brushing, along with regular dental visits, is the most important thing you can do to protect your child’s oral health.
Things to Consider when Choosing a Kids Toothpaste
However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when comparing toothpaste for your children. First, consider buying a kids-specific toothpaste. Some children do not like the minty flavors associated with most toothpastes. For this reason, many toothpaste manufacturers make kids toothpastes with alternative flavors, such as bubblegum or watermelon. More palpable flavors mean the kids will be more likely to brush. Kids toothpastes are also formulated differently than adult toothpastes due to kids’ tendency to suck the toothpaste off the brush and to swallow the toothpaste.
Other things to look out for include the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval for ingredients. This seal means that the ADA has reviewed the toothpaste’s ingredients and determined that they’re safe to use. Just because a toothpaste does not have the ADA seal does not mean it is necessarily unsafe, however.
For kids younger than 2 years old, purchase a toothpaste without fluoride. Small children cannot spit well, and they’re much more likely to swallow the toothpaste. Swallowing too much fluoride puts them at risk of developing fluorosis, a condition that results in overly white specks in their adult teeth.
Avoiding Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in Toothpaste
You may want to avoid toothpastes that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, sometimes abbreviated SLS. It’s well known that SLS can cause canker sores (mouth sores). For some people, it even irritates their eyes. Manufacturers put SLS in toothpaste to make it foamy.
Many ADA-approved toothpastes have SLS, however, so if it does not bother your children, do not feel that you must avoid it.
Brands that use SLS in their products include:
- OralB (toothpaste available online only; in stores in Europe)
- OraLine kids
- Pro-SYS Kids
- Smile Central Dental Bubblegum Fluoride Toothgel
Brands and toothpastes that don’t use SLS include:
- Hello Natural Watermelon Fluoride Free Toothpaste
- Silly Strawberry Squigle Enamel Saver Toothpaste
- Tom’s of Maine Natural Fluoride-Free Toothpaste for Children
Always check the inactive ingredients in the toothpaste if you’re trying to avoid SLS. While brands such as Sensodyne offer many toothpastes without SLS, a few of their toothpastes do contain the ingredient. Also, beware purchasing all-natural toothpastes. While they claim to be healthier than mainstream toothpastes, some of the natural ingredients (like essential oils) are as harsh as common nonorganic ingredients in mainstream brands.