Kids' toothpaste for a big baby
January 15, 2008 5:46 AM   Subscribe

What's the difference between adult and kids' toothpaste?

I hate mint favours, and it's one of several contributing factors to the awful state of my mouth.

The only non-mint, non-fennel toothpaste available in the UK seems to be toothpaste aimed at kids, which is normally strawberry flavoured.

Other than flavourings, are there actually any differences between adult toothpaste and the brands aimed at kids? Will they have any adverse effect on my teeth?

[As a US reference, it's pretty easy to get hold of Toms of Maine Strawberry "for kids" toothpaste.]
posted by twine42 to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Kiddy toothpaste normally don't contain fluoride. It's bad for them or something...
posted by uandt at 6:00 AM on January 15, 2008

Sometimes you will see kids' toothpaste that doesn't contain fluoride. It's omitted in case of accidental swallowing. I don't think kids' toothpaste will have an adverse effect on your teeth. I have two little kids and use their toothpaste occasionally. Usually it doesn't give me that clean, sanitized feeling so I swish some mouthwash.

I find that most kid toothpaste is a bright shade of blue or red or blue. I always wonder why some toothpastes are so brightly colored. Anything "colored" has potential to stain your teeth. It doesn't matter if it's blueberries or blue toothpaste.
posted by LoriFLA at 6:06 AM on January 15, 2008

Best answer: It has to do with flavoring, mostly. Kids don't like strong mint or cinnamon flavorings, while adults might find a sweet bubblegum flavoring to be cloying. Sometimes there are strange colors or effects like sparkles in the kid's stuff, but ultimately it's the same. The active ingredient in pretty much all big company toothpastes is 0.15% Sodium Fluoride, including in their kid's pastes.

They do recommend that children under 2 not use fluoridated toothpaste, but it says so right on the tubes.
posted by explosion at 6:11 AM on January 15, 2008

Best answer: The above posters pretty much have it, but I just wanted to mention that there is a further distinction between kids toothpastes which are sweet and sparkly and so forth and which do contain fluoride and toddler toothpastes which do not contain fluoride and can be safely swallowed. Trace amounts of fluoride are good for the teeth, but too much fluoride can actually stain the teeth brown (fluorosis) and be toxic to the kidneys among other things. Obviously you would want the kids toothpaste with fluoride.
posted by TedW at 6:18 AM on January 15, 2008

Response by poster: So for >2 year olds, the difference is just flavour and sparkles?

Sounds like I'm buying kids toothpaste from now on. Thanks all.
posted by twine42 at 6:19 AM on January 15, 2008

It's generally not good to swallow a lot of fluoride toothpaste. That's why some toothpaste for kids is fluoride-free, especially if it is aimed at babies.

However, there are plenty of kid's toothpastes with fluoride, including Tom's of Maine Strawberry mentioned above (they also have a fluoride-free version). Tom's also offers a children's toothpaste that is Mango-flavored (which I actually prefer to the Strawberry). They also have an "adult" version in Orange-Mango and Cinnamon Clove (their old Cinnamon flavor used to be minty, not sure about this one). They also have Apricot and Lemon-Lime, although these are specifically toothpastes that help out if you have drymouth. They won't hurt you if you don't, but they are harder to find and likely to cost more.

Using the Tom's "kids" toothpaste won't harm your teeth, but you probably want to make sure to get the fluoride version.

Check out any local health-type stores or stores that sell organic foods, etc. They are more likely to carry toothpaste from smaller companies, and these companies are more likely to have off-beat flavors.

full disclaimer: I used to work for Tom's of Maine

(on preview: um yeah, what everyone else said)
posted by mikepop at 6:21 AM on January 15, 2008

Lots of other flavors of toothpaste out there - maybe you can order some?
posted by barometer at 7:33 AM on January 15, 2008

You can also brush with baking soda - we did this as very poor kids growing up. Worked well - I only had one cavity.

Unfortunately, the "brush with baking soda" idea seems to be hand-in-hand with the kookier web sites, so dig around a bit to find one not associated with defeating the Illuminati.
posted by unixrat at 8:44 AM on January 15, 2008

Like mikepop said, do make sure you get the one with fluoride if you're at all susceptible to cavities. In high school, I used to LOVE that Cinnamint one, and I only noticed it didn't have fluoride after I went to the dentist and came away with 4 fillings. It never occurred to me that there would be toothpaste without fluoride.
posted by fiercecupcake at 10:01 AM on January 15, 2008

Best answer: I wanted grape toothpaste more than anything when I was a kid.

Now they make it, and I don't want it.

Old age sucks. But at least I can drink.
posted by Marky at 10:28 AM on January 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

fiercecupcake, the cinnamon-clove flavor comes in a fluoride version now, but I am not sure if that is different in name only from the Cinnamint
posted by mikepop at 11:15 AM on January 15, 2008

I have found that some toothpastes made for sensitive teeth aren't as heavily flavored. I don't like the mint stuff, either, and the sensitive stuff is tolerable enough.
posted by MrFongGoesToLunch at 12:38 PM on January 15, 2008

FYI, the Cinnamon Clove mentioned above is awesome, and definitely different from the Cinnamint. Not sure if you can get it, but I can vouch for the fact that it is the most delicious toothpaste ever, and has fluoride.
posted by dizziest at 2:28 PM on January 15, 2008

I'm thrilled that Crest is now making some of their flavored toothpastes in non-whitening formulas, because the whitening ones made my teeth sensitive.
posted by IndigoRain at 3:12 PM on January 15, 2008

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