It’s never too early to start getting your kids into a good oral-hygiene ritual. As Dr. Danielle Lombardi explains, “Parents should begin brushing their children’s teeth as soon as they erupt in the mouth,” which usually happens around the six-month mark, since by then there is already bacteria present that can cause cavities to form. Many of the dentists we spoke to emphasized that the most important thing to remember is to only use an amount of toothpaste equal to the size of a grain of rice. For children ages three and older, “an amount equal to that of a pea will suffice,” says Dr. Evan Cyrkin of Tree House Pediatric and Adult Dentistry.
When it comes to the type of toothpaste you should use for your little ones, the seven experts we spoke with (as well as The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry) all say that a toothpaste formulated with fluoride is the best way to prevent cavities. Even though your child won’t be able to spit at that age, they should still be getting the topical effect of fluoride on their teeth, explains Dr. Adam Silevitch of Pediatric Dentists NYC. “A lot of parents just assume they should use training toothpaste because their kid can’t spit out [fluoridated toothpaste], but it’s not harmful if they swallow a tiny bit the size of a grain of rice.” Below, our experts’ six favorite kinds of toothpaste for babies.
Best overall toothpaste for babies
Tom’s of Maine Children’s Toothpaste, specifically in the flavor silly strawberry, was highly recommended by four of our experts as an excellent option for babies and younger kids. “There are no artificial colors, sweeteners, or flavorings,” says pediatrician Dr. Jen Trachtenberg, who adds that she also likes the toothpaste because of its more mild flavor. Tom’s of Maine is also ADA-approved, preservative-free and, like all the toothpastes on this list, formulated with cavity-fighting fluoride.
Best SLS-free toothpaste for babies
“Some patients experience canker sores or irritation from SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate), an ingredient commonly found in many toothpastes to make them foam,” explains Dr. Rashmi Ambewadikar of Astoria Smiles Pediatric Dentistry. For these patients, she recommends this toothpaste from Hello Oral Care (which is also a favorite of Silevitch). It’s SLS-free, and comes in fun flavors like wild strawberry, bubblegum, and blue raspberry.
Best all-natural toothpaste for babies
For parents who are interested in a more natural option, Lombardi suggests Burt’s Bees. Not only does it have the ADA seal of approval, but it is also loved by kids, according to Dr. Mitch Zientz of Wellspring Dental, who says it’s his boy’s favorite. “This is what we use for my 18-month-old son, Milo. He sprints to the bathroom when we ask him if he’s ready to brush his teeth.” The toothpaste contains no SLS, artificial flavors and sweeteners, preservatives, or plastic microbeads. Plus, Zientz adds, “it actually tastes good — I’ve tried it — foams up quickly, and has everything needed to keep teeth free from cavities.”
Best flavored toothpaste for babies with very picky taste
Three of our experts suggested Tanner’s Tasty Paste, which Dr. Jeremy Dixon of Gramercy Pediatric Dental specifically recommends for “children who are picky and sensitive to tastes and textures,” since Tanner’s is relatively mild while still being delicious (it comes in flavors including Cha Cha Chocolate and Vanilla Bling). Lombardi adds that it’s a good pick “for children that don’t love the traditional mint- or fruit-flavored toothpaste found in most stores.” Tanner’s toothpaste is also gluten-, sugar-, and SLS-free.
Best mint-flavored toothpaste for babies
Ambewadikar also likes this toothpaste from Aquafresh, because its bubble-mint flavor — which combines the freshness of mint with the sweetness of bubblegum — is a good way to get kids used to other, more mint-flavored toothpastes. The packaging is also kid friendly: Its stand-up bottle features a pump “so no squeezing is necessary,” she says.
Best unflavored toothpaste for babies
As this list suggests, many recommended baby toothpastes are formulated with flavors because kids tend to dislike the strong, minty flavor of adult toothpaste. However, some infants, children with special needs (and even adults) often find “the mint, bubblegum, or fruit flavors that predominate toothpastes unpalatable,” says Cyrkin. If your baby is one of them, he, Lombardi, and Dixon recommend Oranurse Unflavoured Toothpaste. Originally created in the UK for children with autism, this completely unflavored toothpaste is a safe bet for “kids with sensory sensitivities,” according to Lombardi. It does contain the sweetener xylitol, but “the sweetness is nearly undetectable to the palate,” says Cyrkin, who adds that his patients have reported wonderful success with this product (which is also SLS-free).
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