Keep on Smiling: Choosing a Toothbrush and Toothpaste for Your Child

Since February is National Dental Health Month, what better time to choose the right toothbrush and toothpaste for your child?

Consider these tips from the American Dental Association to help keep your child’s chompers healthy.

Picking a Toothbrush

Choose a brush with soft bristles. Medium or hard bristles can scrape the inside of your child’s mouth and damage delicate gum tissue with repeated use.

Make sure that the brush is the right size. A small brush, with three to four rows of bristles, will fit best in a kid’s mouth.

Look for a rounded head. Brushes with rectangular heads make it harder for kids to brush all surfaces of their teeth.

Get a grip. Choose a brush with a cushioned grip.

Buy a new toothbrush regularly. When the bristles look flat or worn down, it’s time for a new brush. Most experts recommend that toothbrushes be replaced every two to three months, but children’s brushes may need to be replaced more often.

Choosing a Toothpaste

In recent years, many toothpastes have come out that are designed for specific purposes. Most of them – especially gingivitis control, tartar control and whitening toothpastes – are made for adults, rather than children. So what guidelines can you follow to choose the best toothpaste for your son or daughter?

Make sure it’s got fluoride. Everyone, not just children, benefits from fluoride, which strengthens teeth. Most toothpaste is about 0.1 percent to 0.6 percent fluoride. Children under 6 should use toothpaste with a lower amount of fluoride in case they inadvertently swallow a large amount.

Look for the ADA seal. This means that the American Dental Association has tested and approved the product for safety and effectiveness.

Trust your child’s taste. A child only needs to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to clean his or her mouth; buying a paste that he or she likes makes that small amount palatable.

For more information, check out the American Dental Association website.

Read more about your child's dental health:


  • Everything You Need to Know About Braces

  • How to Prevent Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

  • Easing Dental Fear

  • Secondhand Smoke Causes Cavities in Kids

    Elizabeth A. Allen