Choosing the right children’s toothpaste is important for many reasons. Toothpaste needs to be effective and safe, especially for children. This is important since under the age of six children do not have the ability to spit. If a child swallows half of a tube of fluoride toothpaste, it could be fatal.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates every toothpaste with fluoride have the following warning posted on every label:

WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under the age of six. If more than used for brushing is swallowed, contact the nearest poison control center or your physician immediately.”

To market and sell toothpaste to children, those branded for kids, usually contain not only fluoride but also sparkly, bright colored dyes, artificial flavors and sweeteners. Some may even contain antimicrobials and harsh ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS).

When choosing toothpaste, it’s important to read the ingredients on the label. You don’t want your child to be exposed to a daily dose of antibiotics or other potentially harmful ingredient through their toothpaste.

Ingredients To Avoid In Toothpaste

  • Saccharin—this ingredient has been on and off the FDA’s list of safe food ingredients.
  • Antimicrobials—natural or synthetic antimicrobials can include tea tree oil, alcohol and triclosan among others. These days found in many products, such as deodorants, dish soap, hand and body soaps, shampoos, etc. Center for Disease Control warns that with over use, antimicrobials may result in antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • Chlorine dioxide—industrial bleach, used for bleaching wood, flour, and disinfection of municipal water.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)—industrial detergent may cause canker sores, dry mouth and allergies.
  • Sodium hydroxide—NaOH, also known as lye or caustic soda, is a metallic base, used in textiles, drain cleaners and industrial detergents.
  • Salicylates—allergic reactions to products are becoming very common. Salicylic acid, the common Aspirin ingredient for inflammation, could be one of the causes. Always look for salicylate free products.
  • Herbal extracts—natural toothpaste ingredients often contain herbs. Herbs have side effects and drug interactions. With frequent use, they could also cause allergies. Many products add herbal extracts and oils for marketing and call their products ‘natural.’
  • PEG/PPG—polypropylene glycol is a surfactant used as a wetting agent, dispersant and in leather finishing.
  • Fluoride—under the age of six, toothpaste should be free of fluoride. Fluoride is toxic if a child swallows it in toothpaste. Xylitol has been shown to be effective for preventing tooth decay. It’s best to choose toothpaste that is fluoride free, but contains xylitol.

Toothpaste for your child should be chosen carefully. Choose one without the warning on the back. Also important is to choose one free of SLS or any of the ingredients listed above.

Baking soda in toothpaste is helpful as is one with xylitol as a sweetener and to help prevent tooth decay. Follow proper oral hygiene as taught by your dentist, make appointments for checkups as recommended by your dentist, and your child will have a beautiful, healthy smile.