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Why Adult Toothpaste Is Not Suitable For Kids

Written by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Updated Sep 02, 2022

Why Adult Toothpaste Is Not Suitable For Kids

It’s crucial for children to take care of their dental health. In fact, they must have their first visit to the dentist by the age of one or within 6 months after the first tooth erupts. First tooth eruption also signifies their need for a toothbrush. Initially, they would require no toothpaste. But once they reach 18 months old (or as instructed by their dentist), they will start needing toothpaste. Can kids use adult toothpaste? What guidelines should parents keep in mind regarding their child’s dental health? Find out here.  

Can Kids Use Adult Toothpaste?

Answering the question, Can kids use adult toothpaste?, requires that we discuss the difference between toothpaste for kids and adults. 

The main difference is the amount of fluoride. It is higher in adult toothpaste, and thus, a crucial factor to consider in choosing a toothpaste brand for your child. 

Other differences are in the content. Besides cleaning the teeth, many adult toothpaste brands have another purpose (whitening, sensitive relief, etc.) Kids do not need specific contents for whitening or sensitive teeth. 

Also, note that children cannot effectively spit out toothpaste; they might even swallow it at times. Children’s toothpaste is made with this in mind. 

Finally, we have dental fluorosis, which can result from adult toothpaste use (due to its high fluoride content). However, it can also occur from fluoridated water ingestion. 

Other Dangers Associated With Ingesting Large Amounts Fluoride 

As mentioned above, the fluoride content is a crucial factor in choosing your child’s toothpaste brand. Ingesting too much fluoride can result in the following:

  • Skeletal Fluorosis – Causes weaker bones, associated/comes with pain and stiffness
  • Upset stomach – Irritates the gastric lining

Signs of Dental Fluorosis

Are you worried about your child’s use of toothpaste with high fluoride content? Do you get concerned about dental fluorosis? Below are the signs to watch out for:

  • Faint, white lines on teeth
  • Dark brown or yellowish stains
  • Pitted or rough enamel
  • Chalky appearance

How Parents Take Care of Their Child’s Dental Health

Here are some tips for parents to help promote and protect their child’s dental health: 

  • Choose suitable toothpaste for children. Choose kiddie (training) toothpaste with zero or low fluoride content and one with gentler abrasive particles and no parabens. 
  • Guide and supervise toothbrushing among younger children. That way you can teach them not to swallow the toothpaste. Also, only use a pea-size amount for kids. 
  • Consult the dentist when red flags are noticed, such as the signs of dental fluorosis. 

Tips in Taking Care of Child’s Teeth

Here are additional tips for taking care of a child’s dental health:

  1. Brush twice daily. Please make sure your child’s toothpaste and toothbrush are suitable for them. 
  2. Teach them to brush using correct strokes  (up down or small circles). Don’t forget to brush their tongue, too.
  3. Children also need to floss their teeth. Help your child floss safely and effectively. 
  4. Bring them to the dentist every 6 months as a rule of thumb. However, the dentist may ask you to bring your child more frequently if necessary. 

Key Takeaways

Can kids use adult toothpaste? It may not be a good idea. Because of the following reasons:

  • Adult toothpaste has a higher fluoride content that may lead to dental fluorosis, skeletal fluorosis, and stomach upset. 
  • Unlike kiddie toothpaste, adult toothpaste may have additional ingredients for whitening and sensitivity relief that kids do not need. 
  • Kiddie toothpaste brands are made with the thought that children cannot yet properly spit out or might even swallow the toothpaste. 
  • Kiddie toothpaste has less abrasive articles

If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with your child’s dentist.

Learn more about Parenting here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Written by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


Updated Sep 02, 2022

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