Which toothpaste for your child?
Updated: Aug 12, 2020
The range of toothpastes available in the market now is amazing but at the same time confusing. To children, they may love the toothpaste or hate it depending on taste, colour and texture. In the market, many of the kids toothpastes are fruity-flavoured because most kids do not tolerate mint well. And like all children products, the toothpaste company tries to entice the child by using sweetened, fruity flavours as the choice of flavour. But personally I’m not a fan of fruity-flavoured toothpaste for a few reasons:
The fruity flavours make the child ingest the paste more because the child would find it yummy.
It’s not easy to transit the child to adult toothpaste because the child would have been very used to fruity flavours (see below for timeline to introduce the child to adult toothpaste).
That said, there is still a place for these toothpastes especially if the parent is struggling to get the child to even like toothbrushing. In some countries like Singapore, the water supply is fluoridated at a low concentration. Therefore, most dentists would recommend spitting and rinsing after brushing to avoid too much ingestion of fluoride. Generally for infants and toddlers, you may want to not use toothpaste or just use an ingestible (safe to swallow) fluoride-free toothpaste during brushing. For children above 3 years of age, a fluoride toothpaste is recommended.
BUT there are instances where dentists may recommend the use of fluoride toothpaste at an earlier age. Fluoride has been proven to prevent cavities and works best topically (on the teeth in the mouth). For children with high dental decay risk, a fluoride toothpaste is recommended regardless if he or she can spit or rinse. The amount of toothpaste to use at each brushing session will differ according to the ability to spit and rinse. If the child can spit and rinse reasonably well, a pea-size amount of toothpaste is used. If the child cannot yet spit, a smear amount (roughly the size of a rice grain) of toothpaste is used. If this small amount of toothpaste is used accordingly, there would be no issues if the child accidentally swallows the toothpaste. An adult should always dispense the toothpaste for the child. What dentists want to do is to balance the fluoride usage in children according to the dental decay risk. Please consult your child’s dentist if you are concerned and would like more specific advice.
Ingestible toothpastes include Oral7 for Tiny Teeth, First Teeth and Jack N' Jill which are usually used to introduce toothbrushing to the child. The advantage of using a toothpaste from early is that the child will get used to having a toothpaste when brushing. I’ve encountered some older children refusing toothpastes when they should be starting on one, especially if they require the help of fluoride from the toothpaste to control their dental decay. When looking for fluoride toothpaste, you should go for one with a minimum fluoride concentration of 1000ppm (parts per million). This has been backed by extensive reliable research. Don’t rely on the age range on the toothpaste packaging when purchasing toothpaste because what matters is the fluoride concentration.
Brands of toothpaste with 1000ppm of fluoride concentration or more include Pigeon Children's toothgel with xylitol and fluoride, Aquafresh Milk Teeth, Pearlie White Enamel Safe, Elgydium 7-12 years old (bubble gum or tutti frutti), Systema Super Smiles 8+ (bubble burst or strawberry rush), Oral7 Kids and Colgate 0% Artificial toothpaste for 6-9 years old. There are some kids toothpastes that fall below this concentration and are not recommended for dental decay prevention. As a guide, most adult fluoride toothpastes have a concentration of 1300 to 1500ppm of fluoride ions. Toothpastes that have such higher fluoride concentrations include Brush Baby 3-6 years and Aquafresh Little Teeth or Big Teeth. I have also reviewed some of the children toothpastes mentioned above in another post here.
If you would like a paste that helps to make plaque visible so that your child knows where to target the dirty parts of the teeth during brushing, try purchasing a plaque-disclosing toothpaste such as Oral Kare ShoPlaq.
For a fluoride toothpaste, choose one with more than 1000ppm fluoride concentration.
The amount of toothpaste dispensed on the brush matters depending on the child’s ability to spit and rinse. If the child can spit, use a pea-size amount. If the child cannot spit, use a rice grain-size amount.
Dispense the toothpaste for your child and help brush your child’s teeth twice daily (first thing in the morning, last thing at night before bedtime).