Decoding Your Kids’ Toothpaste

When it comes to choosing the right toothpaste for your child, making a decision can be overwhelming. Knowing which toothpaste to choose and why can help your child develop and maintain proper dental hygiene well into adulthood.

Read on as we break down the differences in types of toothpaste, what they contain, and important information to consider whenever caring for your child’s teeth.

The Difference Between Adult’s and Children’s Toothpaste

Toothpaste labeled as “children’s toothpaste” differs in a few ways from the toothpaste you use as an adult. Is it safe to use your child’s toothpaste and vice versa? What are the differences? We’ll break it down for you.

Fluoride Content

Our mouths all contain bacteria that feed on the sugars in the foods and drinks we consume. This produces acid that can wear away at tooth enamel. Flouride is what helps protect teeth against acid.

Fluoride is a common ingredient in both adult’s and children’s toothpaste, but its amount varies — adult toothpaste contains much larger amounts. Fluoride is one of the best and safest ways to prevent cavities, protect teeth, and reverse early signs of decay.

Safe to Swallow

Children’s toothpaste is specially formulated to be safe to swallow. This doesn’t mean that children should swallow toothpaste. However, it isn’t harmful to children in small amounts. Below the age of 6, children are more likely to swallow toothpaste, which is why it’s recommended to use toothpaste that’s specially made for them. It’s also important to monitor little ones when brushing their teeth.


Toothpaste is intended to be abrasive enough to clean teeth surfaces. Children’s toothpaste, however, is a lot less abrasive than adult toothpaste. You’ll often find it in a gel formula that’s suitable for sensitive baby teeth.

Flavors and Colors


Many children dislike the taste of mint, which is why children’s toothpaste is available in various flavors like strawberry, grape, and bubblegum, to name just a few. Adults sometimes use children’s toothpaste for their flavor preferences.

Even the colors of children’s toothpaste and their packaging are designed to be extra appealing to little ones, often featuring popular children’s cartoon characters and superheroes on the boxes and tubes themselves. It never hurts to get kids excited and invested in caring for their teeth!

What’s the Deal With Fluoride?

Found naturally in certain foods, fluoride is a mineral in your bones and teeth. Fluoride has been proven to protect teeth from decay, which is why It is commonly added to community water supplies and toothpaste. Proven to be the most cost-effective method of delivering fluoride to all people, community water fluoridation has reduced tooth decay by 25% in children and adults.

There is typically less fluoride in children’s toothpaste so that children do not ingest too much of it. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that children do not use toothpaste containing fluoride until age two.

Tips for Brushing

When brushing your child’s teeth, make sure that you use the appropriate amount of toothpaste, as too much is not necessarily a good thing. According to a 2019 report from the CDC, 38% of children between the ages of 3-6  use more than the recommended amount of toothpaste. In many young children, their swallowing reflexes haven’t fully developed, so when they use too much toothpaste, they could end up ingesting too much fluoride. The amount of toothpaste used will vary by age:

  • 3-6 years of age: no more than a pea-sized amount.
  • Children under 3 years of age: no more than the size of a grain of rice.

Park Avenue Dental for Kids

When it comes to answering your questions about caring for your child’s teeth, Park Avenue Dental is here to help. Our family-friendly dental facilities are welcoming to children, and our experienced and gentle dentists love to work with patients of all ages. To learn more about our pediatric dentistry office or to schedule an appointment, call our office today!