Parents often ask “what toothpaste should I be using for my child”, and furthermore, which toothpastes are appropriate for adults? What should I use for bad breath? With literally hundreds of options to choose from, how can we narrow it down?
First, do not be swayed by products that advertise “whitening”. Thanks to the power of advertising, almost every brand offers one or more whitening varieties of toothpaste. Science shows, however, that brushing does not allow whitening agents to be in contact with the tooth long enough to cause significant and lasting whitening. That being said….don’t waste your money!
Second, most adult toothpastes (i.e. “tartar control”, etc) are much too abrasive for primary tooth enamel, and many contain chemical additives that do nothing for tooth cleaning. We recommend steering clear of toothpaste you find at eye level in the grocery store, and going with the basic boring product on the bottom shelf. Crest and Colgate both make Kids Cavity Protection, as well as an adult version. Aquafresh Triple Protection Sensitive is another good choice. Each of these contains fluoride, but do not have many of the extra added substances.
Many toothpaste products add sodium laurel sulfate (SLS) in order to make toothpaste foam when used. People mistakenly think that more foam = clean. SLS has been linked to the formation of canker sores, however and one of the first things we recommend for kids who present with oral ulcers is changing their toothpaste. For a children’s toothpaste that is complete free of Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS), which is a chemical that has been linked, we recommend Squigle Enamel Saver toothpaste. The people at Squigle also make a fluoride-free variety called Tooth Builder. Other varieties include Tom’s of Maine Clean and Gentle SLS Free, and Kiss My Face Kids Berry Smart.
Finally, halitosis (bad breath) is often noted in young children and teens. Many things can cause bad breath, but residual odor can be emitted from bacteria residing on the posterior portions of the tongue. It is not recommended to brush the tongue, as this can push the bacteria further in between the finger-like structures on the tongue. We advise using a pediatric sized tongue scraper, followed by a mouth rinse. For children younger than 6, the mouthwash should be alcohol free, but for those kids older than 6, alcohol is quite beneficial when used properly. Look for a mouthwash that has the term “antiseptic” on the front, such as Listerine Naturals antiseptic. Listerine makes a version with and without fluoride. Without appropriate antibiotic action, bacteria responsible for bad breath cannot be adequately controlled. If the odor persists, then look for Smart Mouth.