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The first tooth is a major milestone. When that first pearly white cuts through, it’s usually a big relief to both parents and babies who’ve been enduring the pains of teething!

But baby’s first teeth also bring an added responsibility to focus on proper dental care, even at a young age. It’s a good idea to get your child used to the process of brushing teeth and to using a toothbrush and toothpaste, so it becomes part of your routine and one less battle during the toddler years.

Technically speaking, you should be practicing proper oral care habits with your baby before their first tooth erupts.

According to American Dental Association (ADA), parents or caregivers should begin cleaning their baby’s mouth within a few days of birth by using a clean damp washcloth or moistened gauze pad.

But once your baby’s teeth begin to appear, you should begin using a toothpaste with fluoride in it, says the ADA. Your baby should also have their first dental visit after their first tooth erupts, or at least by the time they turn 1.

The short answer is yes. As soon as teeth appear, there’s always a risk of cavities. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), along with the ADA, recommends that parents begin using a toothpaste with fluoride as soon as the first tooth appears.

This is because, according to the AAP, one of the most chronic childhood conditions in the United States is dental caries, the formal term for cavities.

Using fluoride toothpaste can serve as a preventive measure to reduce the risk of cavities forming. Just remember to use a small smear of toothpaste until age 3, and then a pea-sized amount from ages 3 to 6.

Baby toothpaste is slightly different from the traditional toothpaste that most children and adults use. Babies and toddlers don’t always know how to spit, and traditional kinds of toothpaste contain ingredients that aren’t intended for consumption.

Most baby toothpastes are designed to be safe when swallowed. Keep in mind that you might see conflicting information, with some experts still recommending that parents avoid toothpaste with fluoride for infants and toddlers.

Still, there are some ingredients that you’ll want to avoid, namely:

SLS is a detergent that has been shown to cause canker sores.

And finally, abrasive ingredients normally found in whitening toothpaste geared toward adults should be completely avoided. These ingredients can damage the enamel on your child’s teeth.

So, what should you prioritize as you shop for baby toothpaste? It depends on whether you want to follow AAP or ADA recommendations. If you do, then toothpaste with fluoride is going to be a priority.

But many baby toothpastes are fluoride-free. So, if you’re concerned about that, speak with your pediatrician or dentist about whether fluoride is necessary. Outside of fluoride, consider the following factors:

Safe to swallow

Like we mentioned, babies haven’t learned how to purposely spit. So, you need toothpaste that’s safe if swallowed. Most baby toothpastes are designed with this feature as a priority.

Flavor

As compared with adult toothpaste, you’ll find that mint flavoring isn’t common in baby toothpaste. This is because babies tend to like gentler flavor profiles and may find stronger flavors like mint too intense. Typically, baby toothpaste is designed to taste like fruits.

Picking baby toothpaste doesn’t have to tax your brain too much, but it may require a bit of trial and error depending on the flavor and whether your baby likes it or not.

To create our short list, we focused on:

  • whether a brand contained fluoride
  • the flavor
  • reviews from real parents

The ADA acceptance program makes fluoride toothpastes easier to find. While most of the brands on our list carry fluoride toothpastes for tooth health, for those concerned about fluoride, we focused on their fluoride-free products.

A note on price

The toothpastes below are sold in different sized tubes. Some come in multi-packs, while others are sold with toothbrushes. Price per tube ranges from about $3 to $9, at time of publication.

Pricing guide:

  • $ = under $5
  • $$ = $5–$10
  • $$$ = over $10

Orajel Fluoride-Free Training Toothpaste

  • Price: $
  • Age range: 0 to 3
  • Flavor: natural berry fruity
  • Key ingredients: water, sorbitol, propylene glycol, glycerin, cellulose gum, poloxamer 407, flavor, simethicone, methylparaben, potassium sorbet, sodium saccharin, propylparaben, citric acid

The Orajel toothpaste is designed with tiny tots in mind. It’s intended for children as young as 4 months up through 24 months, or 2 years old. It’s free from alcohol, SLS, parabens, aspartame, dyes, and sugar. Parents say their little ones like the berry flavor, and it’s also safe to swallow.

Pros

  • can be used from infant stage
  • fluoride-free and safe if swallowed
  • can be used as a training toothpaste

Cons

  • berry flavor may not be a hit with all kids

Dr. Brown’s Infant-to-Toddler Toothbrush Set

  • Price: $$
  • Age range: 0 to 3 years
  • Flavor: strawberry
  • Key ingredients: glycerin, water, xylitol, propane diol, sorbitol, pectin, anthem gum, silica, sorbic acid, aroma (flavor), calcium lactate

This two-in-one solution comes with a baby-friendly, giraffe-shaped toothbrush that’s a great size for banishing plaque from little mouths. This toothpaste is another fluoride-free option but is made for infants to children 3 years old.

Dr. Brown’s toothpaste is also safe to swallow and is made with a strawberry flavor that’s free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives.

Pros

  • uses real strawberry flavor
  • fewer filler ingredients
  • comes with a toothbrush

Cons

  • some parents note that bristles were a bit too hard

Radius Coconut Banana Organic Toothpaste

  • Price: $$$
  • Age range: 6 months and up
  • Flavor: coconut banana
  • Key ingredients: glycerin, aloe vera leaf juice, coconut fruit powder, erythritol, water, chamomile flower extract, organic flavors, coconut oil, calcium carbonate, guar gum, sodium bicarbonate, sodium chloride, quillaja saponaria wood extract, citric acid, tapioca maltodextrin, grapefruit peel oil, eucalyptus leaf/stem oil, tea tree leaf oil, rosemary leaf oil, anthem gum

If your little one loves the taste of bananas, this pick from Radius is a great choice. The coconut banana-flavored toothpaste is U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified organic, and the company is Leaping Bunny certified for their commitment to avoid use of animal testing for their products.

There are no synthetic foaming agents, chemicals, or GMO-based ingredients. It does have essential oils, including eucalyptus oil, tea tree leaf oil, and rosemary leaf oil.

This BPA-free, dye-free, and gluten-free kids toothpaste is safe to swallow. Note that this is also a fluoride-free toothpaste and is not an ADA accepted product.

Pros

  • contains certified organic ingredients
  • safe for babies as young as 6 months
  • GMO-free and free from synthetic foaming agents

Cons

  • expensive for a single tube

Hello Watermelon Fluoride Free Toothpaste

  • Price: $
  • Age range: 2 years and up
  • Flavor: watermelon
  • Key ingredients: sorbitol, hydrated silica, purified water, vegetable glycerin, aloe vera gel, xylitol, erythritol, natural flavor, xanthin gum, lauryl glucoside, calcium glycerophosphate, titanium dioxide, potassium sorbate, and stevia rebaudiana leaf extract

Babies prefer sweet flavors, so this watermelon toothpaste may be quite the crowd-pleaser. This is another safe-to-swallow solution that’s free from harsh ingredients like SLS, parabens, gluten, dyes, and even artificial sweeteners. This fluoride-free toothpaste is not ADA accepted, although Hello has other kids toothpastes that do contain fluoride.

If you’re concerned about ethical production, you’ll appreciate that Hello is a Leaping Bunny certified brand. Also, note that this toothpaste is vegan-friendly and the packaging is BPA-free.

Pros

  • Leaping Bunny certified ethical production
  • training toothpaste safe for tots as young as age 2
  • naturally flavored

Cons

  • some kids may not like the taste or texture

Colgate My First Toothbrush and Fluoride-Free Toothpaste Set

  • Price: $
  • Age range: 0 to 2 years
  • Flavor: mild fruit
  • Key ingredients: propylene glycol, glycerin, hydrated silica, sorbitol, water, poloxamer 407, cellulose gum, sodium saccharin, citric acid, flavor

Toothbrush sets are great for when you’re just starting to build a good dental care routine with your little one. This set from Colgate comes with a 1.75-ounce (oz.) tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush with a smaller brush head.

The brush has extra soft bristles to gently reach all the nooks and crannies in your baby’s mouth. The infant and toddler toothpaste is designed with a mild fruit flavor that’s safe if swallowed. The toothpaste is fluoride-free and also free from SLS, preservatives, and artificial flavors.

Pros

  • dental kit complete with a toothbrush
  • training toothpaste that can be used by infant to 2-year-olds
  • has a mild fruit flavor

Cons

  • bristles on toothbrush may be too stiff for some children

Jack N’ Jill Natural Toothpaste

  • Price: $$$
  • Age range: 2 years and up
  • Flavor: raspberry and banana
  • Key ingredients: xylitol, purified water, glycerin, silica, organic banana/raspberry flavor, xanthan gum, organic calendula officinalis extract, potassium sorbate, citric acid

This two-pack of organic toothpaste is a great way to stay stocked up on oral care supplies. This toothpaste is vegan-friendly, gluten-free, SLS-free, and is certified cruelty-free as well. Note that this is another fluoride-free option.

The safe-to-swallow toothpaste comes in two different flavors: banana and raspberry. This pick has xylitol and calendula, which the brand claims have been added to help reduce the risk of cavities while also soothing gums and fighting tooth decay.

Pros

  • PETA certified cruelty-free
  • economical two-pack
  • safe if swallowed — good for training

Cons

  • short 6-month expiration

Tom’s of Maine Flouride-Free Toddler Training Toothpaste

  • Price: $$$
  • Age range: 3 months to 2 years
  • Flavor: mild fruit
  • Key ingredients: glycerin propane diol, hydrated silica, water, xylitol, benzyl alcohol, carrageenan, natural flavor, citric acid

If you have a baby that balks at toothpaste with a paste-like texture, this softer gel formula from Tom’s of Maine might be a great alternative.

This is another fluoride-free baby toothpaste that’s safe to swallow. The mild fruit flavor is free from artificial colors, flavors, fragrances, or preservatives. This toothpaste is formulated for babies ages 3 months to 2 years old.

Pros

  • economical three-pack
  • safe if swallowed, which makes this good for training
  • no mess squeeze tube top makes this easy to use

Cons

  • smaller tube size may be an issue for some parents

Crest & Oral-B Baby Toothbrush and Toothpaste Training Kit

  • Price: $$$
  • Age range: 0 to 3 years
  • Flavor: mild strawberry
  • Key ingredients: not disclosed

A mild strawberry toothpaste flavor combines with a complete oral care kit so that you can take the guesswork out of finding the right toothbrush for your little one.

You’ll get two 1.6-oz. tubes of safe-to-swallow toothpaste and four miniature toothbrushes featuring Winnie the Pooh. This toothpaste is also fluoride-free and free from SLS, artificial flavors, dyes, and sweeteners.

Pros

  • dental kit that comes with two tubes of toothpaste and four Winnie the Pooh-themed toothbrushes
  • safe if swallowed, which makes this good for training
  • free of SLS and artificial sweeteners

Cons

  • doesn’t disclose ingredients on product page

Baby toothpastesPriceAge rangeFlavorKey ingredientsProsCons
Orajel Fluoride-Free Training Toothpaste$0–3 yearsnatural berry fruityxylitolaffordable, training toothpastetube isn’t branded with Elmo
Dr. Brown’s Infant-To-Toddler Toothbrush Set$$0–3 yearsstrawberryxylitoldental kit with included toothbrush, training toothpastesome parents note that bristles are a bit too hard
Radius Coconut Banana Organic Toothpaste$$6 months +coconut bananaaloe vera leaf juice, coconut fruit powder, erythritol, chamomile flower extract, coconut oil, grapefruit peel oil, eucalyptus leaf/stem oil, tea tree leaf oil, rosemary leaf oil, quillaja saponaria wood extractcontains USDA organic certified ingredientsexpensive for a single tube
Hello Watermelon Fluoride-Free Toothpaste$2 years+watermelonvegetable glycerin, aloe vera gel, xylitol, erythritol, titanium dioxide, stevia rebaudiana leaf extractlarge, economical tube sizecontains 3 sweeteners
Colgate My First Toothbrush and Fluoride-Free Toothpaste Set$0–2 yearsmild fruitsodium saccharin, glycerincomplete dental kit with toothbrushsome parents note that bristles are hard
Jack N’ Jill Natural Toothpaste$$$2 years+raspberry and bananaorganic banana flavor, organic raspberry flavor2-pack made with organic ingredients, vegan, certified cruelty-freeexpensive for a 2-pack
Tom’s of Maine Fluoride-Free Toddler Training Toothpaste$$$3 months–2 yearsmild fruitxylitol, carrageenan3-pack makes this an economical pick, cruelty-freesome parents have concerns over carrageenan
Crest & Oral-B Baby Toothbrush and Toothpaste Training Kit$$$0–3 years mild strawberrybrand doesn’t disclose key ingredients on product pagedental training kit with toothbrushsome parents note that bristles are hard

Picking a good toothpaste to keep your little one’s smile bright and white can feel overwhelming. But in the early stages, you can reach for most training toothpastes and be OK. Still, you may want to keep the following factors in mind.

Age range

Most baby toothpastes will list a recommended age range. Keep in mind that until your baby sprouts their first tooth, you don’t actually need toothpaste and can get away with simply wiping their gums with a moistened washcloth.

But once your baby has teeth (usually around 6 months), it’s time to introduce them to the world of brushing their teeth. Still, you’ll want to be mindful of the age range listed on the toothpaste tube, as most brands provide a suggested age.

Safe to swallow

Especially in the beginning, babies aren’t developed enough to spit out toothpaste. So, you’ll want a toothpaste that’s safe to swallow. In most cases, this translates to a fluoride-free option.

This is because while the ADA recommends fluoride for everyone, ingesting too much fluoride can cause upset stomach and even lead to fluorosis — a condition that’s not dangerous but can leave white spots on your child’s teeth.

Cost to value

As you’ve seen from our recommendations, baby toothpaste can range widely in price. So, you’ll need to decide if a toothpaste is cost-effective for you — especially if you’re buying single tubes versus multi-packs.

Kits vs. tubes

Similar to cost to value, think about whether you want to buy a dental kit or a single or multipack set of toothpaste. Kits can be great because they contain both the toothpaste and a child-safe toothbrush. But dental kits are usually more expensive. The ADA recommends changing toothbrushes every 3 to 4 months.

How can I get my kid to like brushing their teeth?

Encouraging a love for brushing their teeth can be a difficult process. But experts recommend that you get them started early.

Even before your baby’s first tooth sprouts, set a habit of wiping down their little gums after every feeding. And, as those pearly whites appear, introduce tooth brushing as well.

As they get older, continue to supervise as they begin to brush their own teeth. Turn it into a game, and be sure that they spend sufficient time doing so: 2 minutes is the recommended time for a full mouth of teeth.

Is adult toothpaste safe for children?

In theory, you can use adult toothpaste to brush your child’s teeth, but there’s always a concern that your baby will swallow it. This is because adult toothpaste usually contains fluoride. And when swallowed, fluoride can cause upset stomach and if ingested in large amounts, fluorosis.

But, since the ADA does recommend that all people (including children) use a fluoride toothpaste, you can use your regular toothpaste in very tiny amounts to brush your child’s chompers.

Keep in mind that most babies and toddlers dislike the strong mint flavors typically found in adult toothpaste. So, using a baby-friendly and safe-if-swallowed toothpaste with a mild flavor might be a better option to introduce and encourage a love of brushing their teeth.

When can my kid use adult toothpaste?

Essentially, once your child has effectively learned not to swallow toothpaste, you can transition them to adult toothpaste, which tends to contain fluoride. But in reality, you may find that it takes longer to wean a child off of the sweeter kid’s toothpaste with bubble gum or fruit flavors, and toward more traditional mint-flavored adult options.

Caring for your baby’s oral health is important since you’re instilling behaviors that can serve as the basis for healthy habits.

Even though these are your baby’s first teeth — and they’ll lose them and get their permanent teeth — you want to ensure that they’re learning to care of their teeth by minimizing the risk of cavities and other dental health concerns.

Concerned about your child swallowing toothpaste?

The National Capital Poison Center has recommendations for fluoride-containing toothpastes and notes that these primarily cause stomach upset if swallowed in large amounts.

The center has a phone number (1-800-222-1222) and online tool that you can use to ask questions.