Tooth decay is not only painful, but it can cause infinite amounts of problems. Untreated, it can cause sleep loss, infection, problems with eating and speaking, and disruption to school. What’s more surprising is that it is one of the most prevalent conditions that children face in the world.
Unlike some diseases, tooth decay affects the most deprived in society more than anyone else. Fortunately, toothpaste manufacturers are trying to tackle this issue head-on by carefully marketing a broad range of children’s toothpaste. From well-loved cartoon characters to enticing flavors, there is something for all kid's tastes.
Children’s toothpaste is a broad market. To help you out, here’s everything you need to know in one handy article:
Know your amounts
Despite what toothpaste adverts might make you think, you don’t need to fill the whole toothbrush head with a smooth line of toothpaste. For children, their mouths are far more sensitive than your own. They are still developing, so putting too much toothpaste on their brush is more detrimental than helpful.
- Under 3s: A smear or rice grain amount of toothpaste is enough
- Ages 3 - 6: A pea-sized amount is just right
- Ages 7+: A small ribbon of paste along the brush
The standard rule for toothbrushing for all ages is to brush at least twice a day for two minutes. That’s at least once in the morning - usually after breakfast - and just before bed. Once teeth are brushed, try not to let your little one eat or drink afterward. This can wash the much-needed enamel strengthening fluoride away from their teeth, which works throughout the night.
Spotlight on fluoride
Different brands will support various stages of your child’s tooth journey. Most will include an age-appropriate amount of fluoride, and others will be entirely fluoride-free and use the foaming action from ingredients such as xylitol to clean teeth.
But how much fluoride should your child have in their toothpaste? Well, let’s take a look.
Children’s brands vary from 500ppmF to 1,500ppmF (always check the label), but infants need less fluoride in their toothpaste as there is a theoretical risk where too much fluoride can cause white marks on teeth to occur. However, the benefits far outweigh the risks.
Fluoride, when absorbed by the enamel of your teeth, causes a reaction to happen that essentially strengthens and protects your teeth from all the nasties. You know, cavities, tooth decay, that sort of thing! To prevent this, it’s recommended that children’s toothpaste includes:
- Up to 3 years: You should use children’s toothpaste containing no less than 1,000ppm of fluoride or a family toothpaste containing between 1,350ppm and 1,500ppm fluoride
- Ages 3 - 6 years: You should use children’s toothpaste containing no less than 1,000ppm of fluoride or a family toothpaste containing between 1,350ppm and 1,500ppm fluoride
- Ages 7+: You should use a toothpaste containing between 1,350ppm and 1,500ppm fluoride
The fact is, most children find the classic mint flavor too strong. As their tastebuds are still developing, buying a toothpaste that doesn’t overpower their senses will encourage them to brush without the fear of tasting something horrible!
Whether you try strawberry, vanilla, watermelon, or the more jazzy flavors like bubblegum and chocolate, your child will love experimenting with all the different flavors. Once you’ve found “the one,” brushing will become a much more enjoyable experience.
While big brands have all the licenses for the biggest cartoon names around, a quality range of supermarket alternatives is available at a more affordable price. Just make sure you check out all the fluoride information on the packaging, and away you go.
Top tips for good brushing
Getting the right toothpaste is just part of the complete toothbrushing experience. While all children should be supervised while brushing their teeth - until they’ve completely smashed the technique around the 7-8-year-old mark - there are a few things you can do to help:
- Make toothbrushing fun: Whether you buy a kids toothbrush with flashing lights, such as the ones offered by Brush-Baby, use an egg timer or adapt your child’s fave nursery rhyme into a brushing song, brushing needs to be fun! The more positive and engaging you can make the experience, the more willing your little one will be to learn
- Guide your child’s hand so they can feel the correct brushing movements
- Use a mirror: If your child can see what they are doing, they are more likely to get it right!
- Show them how it’s done: Children learn through imitation, and what better way to get them brushing than for them to see how it’s done correctly - so show them how!
Whatever age your child is, make sure they don’t walk or run around with their toothbrush in their mouth. Accidents do happen, after all.
Don’t forget to visit the dentist
While you might have an excellent toothbrushing routine in place already, visiting the dentist regularly will ensure your child avoids any unnecessary pain from hidden cavities or decay.
As soon as your tot gets their first tooth, it’s recommended you book in their first visit to the dentist. That way, they can get familiar with their dentist and get used to the experience. Your local dentist is also an excellent source for tips and advice and will be happy to answer your questions.
Your dentist will also recommend the best toothpaste for your child’s teeth and identify any brushing technique dilemmas you may have too.
What’s more, dental care is free for all children in the UK, so make the most of it while you can. If you can make it as fun and upbeat as possible, any worries your child may have about the dentist’s chair will be much less of an issue.
The world of children’s toothpaste is really not that complicated. With all the bright, fun cartoon character packaging and the tasty flavors to choose from, your child’s oral health journey can get off to the best start. What toothpastes have caught your little one’s eye?