Toothpaste Questions Answered
By: Dr Peter, Pediatric dentist and owner at VK Pediatric Dentistry, in Arlington, VA.
Walking down the aisle at your favorite grocery store and seeing the toothpaste options can be overwhelming. I often get questions about toothpaste and children’s dental health. When should a child start using toothpaste? When can they use adult toothpaste? What's your favorite brand? Let's dive in.
At What Age Should A Child Use Toothpaste?
As soon as you see your child’s first tooth, you should be using a toothpaste with fluoride. There are many infant toothpastes/training toothpastes that are okay for learning, but once a child has teeth we recommend toothpaste with fluoride to help strengthen and protect the enamel of those teeth. Generally, children start getting teeth around 6-12 months of age.
How Much Toothpaste Should I Use?
If you child is under three years of age, use a grain of rice (or a small smear) of toothpaste. At this age, children generally can’t spit but using a small amount has been proven safe for use. When children are over the age of three, use a pea sized amount. The main difference between children’s toothpaste and adult toothpaste is the flavor profile and how much foaming there is. Some children, especially picky eaters, may struggle with the flavor and texture of some toothpastes. I’ve found Tom’s of Maine has a relatively mild flavor profile that a lot of kids will tolerate.
When Should I Start Whitening Toothpaste?
Primary (baby) teeth are whiter than adult teeth naturally so when your child is in their mixed dentition (starting around age 6-7) their adult teeth may appear yellow by comparison. Parents often want to use whitening products to brighten up the smile but we do not recommend this until a child gets older. Usually, we recommend starting with whitening products (whether it's white strips or just whitening toothpaste) around age 14. This gives all of the permanent teeth a chance to come in and also fully develop their roots.
What Toothpaste Do You Use?
My favorite toothpaste is Arm & Hammer Advance White. I wouldn’t recommend this for children (the flavor is quite strong) but I feel it does a very good job of cleaning and I like the taste.
Questions about which toothbrush to use? Check out our post on that here.
VK Pediatric Dentistry
5001 Lee Hwy, Arlington VA 22207