What Age Can a Child Use Normal Toothpaste
When babies first get teeth at around the age of 6 months you should start brushing twice daily with toothpaste but you will want to choose a baby toothpaste rather than just giving them a smidge of yours, this is mainly due to the amount of fluoride contained within regular toothpaste.
Why You Should Start With a Baby/Toddler Toothpaste
While there are many brands out there offering special baby and child toothpastes the main reason you should choose a different toothpaste for babies and toddlers is that baby or children's toothpaste has a lower fluoride content than adult toothpaste.
Even with the lower fluoride content some people recommend not using a fluoride toothpaste until children are old enough to reliably spit rather than swallow their toothpaste. Making this call should be your decision and you may want to talk to your dentist for more information.
Baby and toddler toothpastes as well as being lower in fluoride or fluoride free also tend to have a milder flavour which can help with encouraging babies and young children to brush their teeth. A strong mint flavour can be too much for little ones. Using a mild mint toothpaste is a great way to get them used to the minty flavour of most adult toothpastes. Or you can choose a fruity flavour if they don’t like the mint.
If you are using fluoride toothpaste it's really important to make sure you apply the toothpaste for young children so they don’t get too much. Children under the age of 3 should use only a smear of toothpaste, no bigger than a grain of rice, whereas older children can have a pea sized amount. Too much fluoride is not good for children so you might want to consider low fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay but still give them healthy teeth.
If children like the taste of their toothpaste they might want more or try and eat it from the tube which is not a good idea especially if you are using a fluoride toothpaste as this can cause stomach upset or dental fluorosis. Encourage brushing to prevent decay, and setting up good oral health routines at this age is vital. Brushing properly is very important for children's teeth and children's toothpastes might be more appealing to them to get them to do it! Kids toothpaste is safer as you don't need to worry so much about excess toothpaste compared to using regular toothpaste.
Switching to adult toothpaste
Advice varies as to when you should switch to a toothpaste with a higher fluoride content with some suggesting age three and others suggesting waiting until children are 7. The NHS website suggests that children age 3-6 can use either a child's toothpaste with fluoride of 1000ppm or a family toothpaste with fluoride up to 1500ppm. And that children over 7 should use a toothpaste with at least 1350ppm.
Of course, if you are not using fluoride then you don’t need to worry so much about when you switch although you may still find that children do not enjoy a strong minty flavour and are more enthusiastic about brushing their teeth if they get to choose their favourite fruity flavour instead.
It is also important to remember that encouraging children to brush twice a day for 2 minutes is the most important thing so if they need to keep using the toothpaste that they are used to for a bit longer don’t worry too much.
Can adult toothpaste be used for children?
Yes, basically an adult toothpaste can be used for children. It is not harmful for children to use adult toothpaste but it can cause stomach upset if they eat too much of it, you don't want children swallowing fluoride. The main difference between baby toothpaste and adult toothpaste is that baby toothpaste is fluoride.
Once they start brushing their own teeth, even baby teeth you want to ensure that a child's oral health routine is set up for life. Tooth decay can affect baby's teeth and when they start to brush their own teeth, it's important to check they are brushing their teeth properly. Once they get their permanent teeth or adult teeth, then you can consider moving from children's toothpaste.
When it comes to brushing your child's teeth, the most important thing is that they brush twice a day for two minutes with toothpaste, even their milk teeth or first tooth. Once they reach school age, you can start to slowly increase the amount of toothpaste they use until they are using a pea-sized amount. They also need to ensure they are brushing all the chewing surfaces and not just their front teeth. Most children don't understand the importance of good oral care, so its vital to help young children with brushing.
What toothpaste is safe for babies?
When it comes to choosing a toothpaste for your baby or younger children, the main thing to look for is one with zero or a low fluoride content. You may also want to choose a milder flavor, such as fruity or mint, to help them get used to the taste of toothpaste. It's also important not to use too much toothpaste - a smear for children under three and a dot-sized amount for older children should suffice. Once they reach school age, you can start to slowly increase the amount of toothpaste they use until they are using a pea-sized amount.