The Best Toothpastes for Toddlers, According to Dentists Who Are Moms

Great flavor and ingredients make Hello Fluoride Kids Toothpaste our top pick

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Depending on your toddler’s personality, brushing their teeth can either be a breeze or a chore. Regardless of their temperament, they’ll need to have their teeth brushed twice a day, ideally with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride helps fight plaque and cavities, and when applied correctly, is safe to use as soon as your child’s first tooth appears.

Reviewed & Approved

The Hello Fluoride Kids Toothpaste contains no artificial flavors, dyes, gluten, or SLS and has fun flavors like wild strawberry and unicorn bubblegum. We also like Tanner’s Tasty Paste because it tastes just like ice cream and is good for kids with sensitivity issues.

Bozhena Fisher, DDS, a board-certified pediatric dentist and a mother, tells Verywell Family that parents should pay attention to ingredients. “I recommend toothpaste that is more natural and has no artificial colors or flavors,” says Dr. Fisher. 

When it comes to cavity prevention, parents should look for toothpaste that contains fluoride. While there may be some confusion over whether or not fluoride is safe, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clarifies that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is present in almost all forms of water. When applied to teeth, fluoride strengthens enamel and prevents cavities that can form after eating sugar and other refined carbohydrates.

However, not every parent wants fluoride in their child’s toothpaste. Xylitol toothpaste is considered a natural alternative to fluoride because it can inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes cavities. But according to Nasem Dunlop, DDS, a mother of two and a board-certified pediatric dentist, xylitol needs to be in higher quantities to be as effective as fluoride. “Fluoride is better [than xylitol] at remineralizing the effects that daily acid and bacteria have on our teeth,” she says. 

Dr. Dunlop also cautions parents about sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), a foaming agent that creates bubbles in toothpaste. “SLS is found in many cleaning products (e.g., soaps and shampoos) because it makes suds. When used in toothpaste, it can cause or exacerbate canker sores in kids who are prone to getting them,” Dr. Dunlop says. 

After speaking with three board-certified pediatric dentists, we researched a wide variety of toothpastes and prioritized factors such as active and inactive ingredients, flavor, age range, and a Seal of Acceptance from the ADA. We also considered whether a toothpaste contains fluoride and has the ability to fight and prevent cavities, while also recognizing that some parents want a fluoride-free option.

Here are the best toothpastes for toddlers.

Best Overall: Hello Kids Fluoride Toothpaste Wild Strawberry

Hello kids toothpaste

Walmart

Pros
  • ADA Seal of Acceptance

  • No artificial flavors, dyes, gluten, or SLS

  • Tasty flavors, with some even containing sparkles

Cons
  • Very sudsy; a little goes a long way

This Hello toothpaste is our best overall pick mostly because of what it doesn’t have in it. In addition to being free of dyes, gluten, and SLS, Hello toothpaste doesn't contain any triclosan, an antibacterial agent that can cause hormone disruption, food allergies, and antibiotic resistance. You also won’t find any microbeads, which are tiny pieces of plastic found in some toothpastes used to exfoliate and provide color. Quite simply, Hello toothpaste is proof that you don’t need lots of artificial ingredients to prevent cavities, remove plaque, and strengthen enamel. 

Every parent knows that the better the toothpaste tastes, the more willing a child is to use it. Hello has thoughtfully created flavors like wild strawberry, dragon dazzle blue raspberry, and unicorn bubblegum that are meant to excite kids about cleaning their teeth. Each formula is sweetened naturally with xylitol and organic stevia and is as delicious as it is fun.

Active Ingredient: Sodium fluoride 0.24%

What Our Experts Say

“I personally LOVE Hello toothpaste because it is gluten-free, dye-free, and SLS-free but still tastes great and has fluoride to protect from cavities.” — Dr. Nasem Dunlop, Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist

Best Tasting: Tanner's Tasty Paste

Tasty Paste

Amazon

Pros
  • Tastes like ice cream

  • Good for kids with sensitivity issues

  • Naturally sweetened with xylitol

Cons
  • No ADA Seal of Acceptance

If your child is picky about their toothpaste flavor, why not try the old-time favorites chocolate or vanilla? Tanner's Tasty Paste was created by a pediatric dentist and mom who struggled to brush her son’s teeth. This cavity-fighting toothpaste tastes just like ice cream—no mint or cinnamon aftertaste, which is a bonus for kids who have sensitivity issues—and it comes in three fun flavors: Cha Cha Chocolate, Vanilla Bling, and Ooh La La Orange. 

The secret to Tanner’s realistic ice cream taste is xylitol, a sweetener derived from plants that won’t cause cavities. It’s also made without sugar, gluten, and SLS, and contains no artificial flavors and colors. And while all three ice cream flavors contain fluoride, there’s also a fluoride-free version, Baby Bling, which is meant for children under the age of 2.

Active Ingredient: Sodium fluoride 0.243%

What Our Experts Say

 “Another great toothpaste we recommend for picky patients is Tanner’s Tasty Paste. It literally tastes like frosting and kids love it!” — Dr. Nasem Dunlop, Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist

Best Value: Tom's of Maine Natural Children's Fluoride Toothpaste, Silly Strawberry, 3 Pack

Tom's Children's toothpaste

Amazon

Pros
  • ADA Seal of Acceptance

  • Sweetened with real strawberry juice

  • Tube is recyclable

Cons
  • Contains SLS

Created by two parents who wanted a natural toothpaste for their kids, Tom’s of Maine Children’s contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, but it does contain SLS. It also has fluoride to prevent and fight cavities, and purified calcium and silica to clean and polish teeth. Best of all, it’s sweetened with real strawberry juice, just like the name says. 

A great feature about the Tom’s of Maine toothpaste tubes is that they’re recyclable. However, the hole through which the toothpaste is dispensed is a bit large, which can result in more than the desired amount ending up on your child’s toothbrush.

Active Ingredient: Sodium monofluorophosphate 0.76%

Best First Toothpaste: Dr. Brown's Baby Toothpaste

Dr Brown Baby Toothpaste

Amazon

Pros
  • Safe for babies ages 0-3

  • Tastes like familiar baby foods

  • Small tube works well for travel

Cons
  • No ADA Seal of Acceptance

Dr. Brown’s is one of the most trusted baby care brands on the market. While best known for its bottles, Dr. Brown’s also carries an entire line of dental care products, including this toothpaste for children ages 0-3 years. It contains no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, and it tastes just like apple and pear—two common first foods for babies. 

The primary purpose of Dr. Brown’s toothpaste is to teach infants about oral hygiene. It can be used twice daily in a pea-sized amount and it contains xylitol, which can reduce bacteria that cause cavities. Since this toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride, it doesn’t qualify to receive the ADA’s Seal of Acceptance.

Active Ingredient: Xylitol

Best Fluoride-Free: Burt's Bees Kids Toothpaste Fruit Fusion

Burt's Bees Kids Toothpaste

Amazon

Pros
  • Sweetened with stevia

  • Not runny like other natural toothpastes

Cons
  • No ADA Seal of Acceptance

If you’re looking for fluoride-free toothpaste, Burt’s Bees Kids is a solid choice. Keep in mind, however, that just because it doesn’t contain fluoride does not mean it’s safe to swallow. In fact, the manufacturer recommends that this toothpaste not be swallowed and should only be used by children ages 2 and older. 

In addition to fluoride, you won’t find any SLS, triclosan, artificial flavors and sweeteners, or preservatives in this toothpaste. And while it may not contain fluoride, it can remove plaque with the help of hydrated silica, an abrasive ingredient commonly found in toothpaste.

Active Ingredient: Hydrated silica

Best Organic: Jack N' Jill Natural Kids Toothpaste

Jack N Jill Toothpaste

Amazon

Pros
  • Contains 40% xylitol

  • Utilizes organic calendula for plaque reduction

Cons
  • No ADA Seal of Acceptance

Nowadays, many parents are opting for organic ingredients for their children, and toothpaste is no exception. This toothpaste comes in two flavors—strawberry and blueberry—and is sweetened with xylitol. Although not as effective as fluoride, xylitol can help prevent cavities by reducing the bacteria that cause them. This natural toothpaste also contains organic calendula, which can help reduce plaque and gum disease.

Active Ingredient: Xylitol 

Best for Independent Brushers: Orajel Kids Anticavity Fluoride Toothpaste

Orajel Kids Toothpaste

Walmart

Pros
  • 99% natural ingredients

  • Sugar-free

  • Naturally sweetened

Cons
  • Longtime users may not be partial to new formula

  • No ADA Seal of Acceptance

According to Dr. Fisher, kids need good dexterity to be able to brush their teeth independently. “One of the ways to know that your child [is ready] is if they can tie their own shoelaces,” she says.

If your child is ready to brush their own teeth, Orajel’s Anticavity Toothpaste is a great choice. It’s specially formulated for independent brushers and contains no artificial colors, sweeteners, dyes, or SLS. 

This toothpaste is also sugar-free, which may make it a good option for diabetics. Instead of sugar, it’s sweetened with sorbitol and stevia, which are naturally derived from fruits, vegetables, and plants. If your child is diabetic, be sure to check with their pediatrician before selecting a toothpaste, though.

Active Ingredient: Sodium fluoride 0.24%

Best for Kids Under 2: Crest Baby Training Toothpaste

Crest Training Toothpaste

Walmart

Pros
  • Strawberry flavor is mild

  • Comes with a training toothbrush

Cons
  • No ADA Seal of Acceptance

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, parents should clean their baby’s mouth and gums even before a tooth erupts. With the help of this kit, parents can instill the importance of oral hygiene early on in their baby’s life. 

The mildly flavored strawberry toothpaste is sweetened with xylitol and contains no SLS, artificial flavors, sweeteners, or dyes. You also won’t find any sugar, parabens, or abrasives in this toothpaste. The training toothbrush (included) has extra-soft bristles that are gentle on your baby’s gums.

Active Ingredient: Xylitol

Best Kid-Friendly Dispenser: Firefly Natural Anticavity Fluoride Toothpaste

Firefly Strawberry Toothpaste

Amazon

Pros
  • ADA Seal of Acceptance

  • Pump dispenses a precise amount

  • Cap contains a hidden character surprise

Cons
  • Contains cocamidopropyl betaine

When it comes to applying toothpaste themselves, it’s no surprise that young children often create quite a mess. With Firefly’s kid-friendly pump, they can dispense a pea-sized amount of toothpaste every time with no risk of accidental overspill. Your child will also find a fun surprise item under the cap based on whatever character-themed paste they choose. 

When it comes to ingredients, this toothpaste is made almost entirely of natural ingredients. You won’t find any gluten, dyes, or artificial flavors in it; however, it does contain cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB), a compound made from coconuts that may contain impurities and on rare occasions can cause irritation if left on the skin for too long.

Active Ingredient: Sodium fluoride 0.24%

Best With Vitamins: Vitaminpaste Kids Toothpaste

Vitaminpaste kids toothpaste

Amazon

Pros
  • Safe to swallow after rinsing

  • Easy way to sneak in extra vitamins

  • Contains calcium to strengthen teeth and bones

Cons
  • Contains soy and coconut

  • No ADA Seal of Acceptance

If you’re looking for a way to give your toddler some extra vitamins without having to buy a multivitamin, this toothpaste may be your best parent hack yet. It contains calcium and five essential B, D, and E vitamins, making up 50 percent of kids’ daily vitamin needs. However, it's only recommended for kids aged 4 years and older and must be used three times per day to get the maximum effect. 

Although this toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride, it does contain xylitol, which may help reduce the bacteria that causes cavities.

Active Ingredient: Xylitol

Final Verdict

If you’re looking for a toothpaste that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance, is made without artificial flavors or SLS, and is proven to fight and prevent cavities, we recommend Hello Kids Fluoride Toothpaste. And since a tasty toothpaste can motivate a picky toddler to sit still for brush time, we suggest giving Tanner’s Tasty Paste in chocolate or vanilla a try. 

How We Selected the Best Toothpaste for Toddlers

After speaking with three pediatric dentists about what to look for in toothpaste and product recommendations, we analyzed more than 20 top-rated products and focused on ingredients, taste, texture, and cavity prevention abilities. We prioritized those that contain no artificial flavors, dyes, or SLS. We also looked for products that are made from natural ingredients and are specific about age ranges and recommended use.

What to Look for in Toothpaste

American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance 

When selecting toothpaste for your toddler, the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance can be a great starting point to evaluate your options. Although all oral care products are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the ADA Seal of Acceptance often goes beyond FDA requirements. When a toothpaste brand receives the organization's stamp, it means the product contains the right amount of fluoride to protect tooth enamel and has been rigorously tested to meet safety and efficacy requirements developed by the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs. 

Keep in mind, however, that the lack of the ADA Seal of Acceptance doesn't necessarily mean the toothpaste is unsafe. Fluoride-free toothpaste, for example, won't have the approval because it doesn't have that specific ingredient, which the organization lists as a requirement.

Active Ingredients

When choosing a toothpaste for your toddler, look for one that has fluoride as its active ingredient. On the packaging, this might look like sodium fluoride, stannous fluoride, or sodium monofluorophosphate. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, prevents cavities, and is an important part of your toddler’s oral hygiene regimen. 

For children younger than 2 years old, the ADA recommends using a smear (no larger than a grain of rice) of fluoride toothpaste. For children 2-6 years old, the ADA recommends a pea-sized amount, which is approximately 0.25 grams of toothpaste or 0.25 milligrams of fluoride.

If you prefer to avoid fluoride, the next best alternative is xylitol. According to the California Dental Association, xylitol may help prevent cavities because it can reduce the bacteria that cause them. However, xylitol must be used more often and in larger quantities than fluoride to be effective, and more research is needed to fully understand its benefits.

Potential Irritants

When brushing your toddler’s teeth, the last thing you want is for them to suffer from some sort of reaction. Grace Yum, DDS, mother and board-certified pediatric dentist, advises parents against using a toothpaste that contains abrasives (e.g., calcium carbonate), which are good for removing stains and debris but can be too strong for a toddler’s enamel. 

“It’s smart to avoid ingredients that can be irritating or cause allergic reactions,” says Dr. Yum. “These include artificially colored dyes, which can cause a swollen tongue or itchiness, or SLS, which is a cleaning agent that can cause sores in the mouth for some.”

Flavor

When it comes to brushing a toddler’s teeth, flavor is something that parents shouldn’t overlook. If a toothpaste tastes good, a toddler will likely be more welcoming of it and more willing to brush their teeth regularly. Dr. Yum recommends going for “kid-approved flavors” like strawberry and bubblegum, as children can be “picky about the overall taste of toothpaste.”

Age Range

Dr. Yum also notes that parents should always check the age range of a toothpaste before using it on their child. “Depending on the age of the child and if they have teeth, certain toothpastes are more appropriate than others. For example, if your little one has no teeth yet, I would recommend sticking to training toothpaste without fluoride,” Dr. Yum says.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is fluoride toothpaste safe for toddlers?

    According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), it’s safe to use fluoride toothpaste on babies once their first tooth comes in—but only a smear no larger than a grain of rice. This is because fluoride, while safe in small amounts, shouldn’t be ingested regularly if it can be avoided.

    For young toddlers who cannot yet spit, the AAP suggests having the child tilt his or her mouth down while brushing so that the toothpaste can dribble out into the sink, a cup, or a washcloth.

  • Can a 2-year-old use normal toothpaste?

    While it may seem harmless to use adult toothpaste on your child, especially if they’re older, Dr. Yum cautions against it. “Some parents might think that they are saving money by not buying kid's toothpaste; however, adult toothpastes may have too much fluoride. In addition, some products use abrasives that could damage the enamel, so go for a gentler option that is safe on those baby teeth,” explains Dr. Yum.

  • What toothpaste do dentists recommend for kids?

    We spoke with three pediatric dentists and the results were conclusive: once a child’s first tooth erupts, parents should use an age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste. Look for a brand that has a kid-friendly flavor and does not contain SLS, artificial flavors, or dyes. The top picks among the dentists we spoke to are Hello Kids Fluoride Toothpaste, Tanner’s Tasty Paste, and Firefly Natural Anticavity Fluoride Toothpaste.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Laura Lu is an experienced health writer who has a Master of Science degree in Health Communication. She’s also a mother to two young children and has plenty of experience brushing a wiggly, picky, toddler’s teeth. In every facet of life, she strives to use products that don’t contain artificial flavors or dyes and chooses organic ingredients whenever possible. Her children thoroughly enjoy the “strawberry cake” taste of Hello Kids Fluoride Toothpaste, which has officially put her family’s brush-time battles to bed.

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Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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