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  • Writer's pictureDr. Peter - Pediatric Dentist in Arlington, Virginia

The Best Baby Toothpaste

By: Dr Peter, pediatric dentist and owner at VK Pediatric Dentistry, in Arlington, VA.

When should a child start using toothpaste? When can they use adult toothpaste? What's your favorite brand? Dr Peter, a pediatric dentist at VK Pediatric Dentistry, in Arlington dives in.

At What Age Should A Child Start Using 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. Anything with an ADA stamp of approval is a safe bet, as they have been vetted by the American Dental Association and don't contain additional harmful additives and flavorings (like sugar) that can actually be detrimental to teeth.

How does fluoride work? Lets dig into the science: teeth are composed of natural crystalline structure and do their best to resist wear and acid attacks from bacteria and plaque. Fluoride interacts with the developing crystals in teeth and initiates a replacement of hydroxyapatite (normal tooth structure) with fluorapatite (a similar crystal that has the addition of fluoride). Fluorapatite is much more resistant to decay and can help prevent cavities much better than the regular tooth structure. It also reduces the ability of plaque bacteria to produce acid, as well as promotes the reminerilization of tooth enamel.

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 so experiment until you find a flavor or toothpaste brand they like.

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 Toothpastes Do You Recommend, Dr. Peter?

Fortunately there are a lot of good options out there. I have a few that I generally recommend:

Best Overall:

Toms of Maine Children's Toothpaste, Strawberry

Toms of Maine Children's Toothpaste is highly recommended. It's my go-to toothpaste for kids (just make sure you get the version with fluoride). They don't use artificial colors, sweeteners or flavorings and the flavor is relatively mild which can be extremely helpful for picky heaters. It's ADA-approved, preservative free, and has fluoride.

Best All Natural:

Burt's Bees Kids Toothpaste, Fruit

If you're a parent interested in the most natural option, Burt's Bees is a great choice. It has an ADA stamp of approval and kids love it. The toothpaste contains no SLS (which can be very useful for kids who get frequent canker sores), no artificial flavors, preservatives, or microbeads. The flavor is very pleasant and it creates a lot of cleaning foam.

Best Flavorless:

OraNurse Unflavored:

OraNurse checks a lot of boxes that we like. It is unflavored so kids that are very picky with flavors may enjoy this particular toothpaste. Another benefit is that it doesn't foam. Although this may not clean teeth as well as a traditional foaming toothpaste, sometimes having a compliant child allows you to clean the teeth much better. Here's a tip: If you start using this toothpaste, sometimes adding the tiniest smear of a different toothpaste in the future allows you to start introducing flavored pastes without it being overwhelming for your children.

Best Toothpaste You Can Find Easily:

Crest Kid's Cavity Protection:

Crest has been a leader in the Oral Health industry for years for a reason - they make a great product. This is the toothpaste we regularly give out at our appointments. It's cost effective compared to some of the more 'specialty' products, it works great and most kiddos love it. It does a great job cleaning the teeth - which can be helpful for staining - and most kids like the flavor. If you're at the local grocery store and looking to purchase a toothpaste, this is a great option.

Questions about which toothbrush to use? Check out our post on that here.

VK Pediatric Dentistry

5001 Lee Hwy, Arlington VA 22207

Schedule An Appointment Today in Arlington, Virginia at VK Pediatric Dentistry

If you haven't taken your child to a pediatric dentist yet or would like to schedule an appointment, Dr. Peter and the highly skilled team at VK Pediatric Dentistry are just a phone call away. Schedule an appointment online or call us today at 703-962-7814. We look forward to providing your children a lifetime of healthy and happy smiles!!


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