Adults vs. Kids Toothpaste: What’s the Difference and Can You Use Both?


Classic, mint-flavored toothpaste is often considered for adults. Others are flavored and geared for kids. But what if you’re an adult and you like the taste of kids’ toothpaste? Or you don’t have any kids’ toothpaste, but your nephew is sleeping over? Can adults use kids' toothpaste and vice-versa? The short answer is yes… but read on for more details about the differences between adults’ and kids’ toothpaste and when and how much to use.

What Is the Difference Between Kids’ Toothpaste and Adult Toothpaste?

Flavoring usually defines the difference between kids’ toothpaste and adult toothpaste. Children’s toothpaste typically has a sweeter or fruitier taste compared to adult toothpastes, which often have a mint flavor. Both kids’ and adult toothpastes come in varieties with and without fluoride, as well as SLS-free versions.


Whether a toothpaste is labeled for kids or not doesn’t determine how much fluoride is in it. According to the National Institute of Health, fluoride toothpaste usually contains around 1.3 mg of sodium fluoride or monofluorophosphate per typical serving of toothpaste. That’s an average, and some fluoride toothpastes contain more or less, but that’s not dependent on who the toothpaste is designed for.


Bottom line: kids and adult toothpastes made with fluoride contain about the same amount, so if you’re an adult who wants to use a berry-flavored “kids” toothpaste, you aren’t shortchanging yourself. If you’re a parent worried about an adult toothpaste being too strong for your child, the fluoride content is roughly the same.


If the toothpaste in your home contains fluoride, regardless of whether it’s for kids or adults, monitor how much your child is using and help them learn not to swallow it.


Can Kids Use Adult Toothpaste?


when can kids use adult Arm and Hammer toothpaste

Yes, kids can use adult toothpaste if they prefer minty flavor and can spit out the toothpaste after brushing. If your child wants to try out your usual toothpaste, you can let them do so, just use the appropriate size on the brush and follow proper brushing techniques.


A child trying out an adult toothpaste may prefer one without sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS-free toothpastes can have less foam than toothpaste with SLS and may be easier for kids to use without feeling the urge to swallow.


When Can Kids Use Adult Toothpaste?

You can let your child use your non-fluoride toothpaste at any age, and fluoride toothpaste once they are at least 6 months old.


Which toothpaste your child uses can depend on their flavor preferences, their ability to spit after brushing, your dentist’s recommendations, and your choices about toothpaste ingredients such as fluoride or SLS. Many dentists recommend that kids make the switch from children’s to adult toothpaste around 6 or 7 years old, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule.


If you introduce the minty flavors of regular toothpaste and your child balks, no worries! They can keep using a kids toothpaste with their favorite berry bubble flavor for as long as they like. The important part is that your child likes their toothpaste and wants to brush their teeth twice per day for two minutes.


Why Are Adult Toothpaste Formulas Always Mint?

Since the early 20th century, mint has been the dominant flavor in toothpaste because people associate the flavor and the tingling sensation with feeling clean and fresh. Additionally, it provides a sense of being able to help avoid bad breath.


Kids might not enjoy mint-flavored toothpaste, however. Children have more sensitive tastebuds and may be turned off by mint toothpaste because the taste could feel overwhelming or “spicy” to them. That’s why kids' toothpaste formulas have other flavors kids love to help make toothbrushing fun.


Given there are different flavors of toothpaste for kids and adults, make sure you choose one that will encourage both you and your child to brush regularly.


Can Adults Use Kids’ Toothpaste?

There is no tangible downside to adults using kids’ toothpaste, so they’re acceptable to brush with if you find your tube empty and need to clean your teeth before heading out for the day or settling in for a good night’s sleep.


If you don’t like mint-flavored toothpaste, a kids’ formula may be the best route. It won’t provide the cooling, tingling sensation of mint, but still cleans teeth just as effectively. Additionally, some formulas might have flavors like cinnamon or lemon, as well.


In short, you can choose to make brushing with your kids and their toothpaste part of your daily routine! Just make sure both you and the little ones are using the proper amount (more on that later!) and, perhaps most importantly, make sure everyone is using the toothpaste they want to use and feel good about.


Do All Kids’ Toothpaste Formulas Have Fluoride? cute little girl brushing her teeth with Arm and hammer kids toothpaste formula


Although most kids’ toothpaste formulas contain fluoride, this is not true of all toothpastes. Some are fluoride-free, giving you options when purchasing products for your family.


The American Dental Association (ADA) and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend toothpaste with fluoride because fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay and build strong teeth. Still, if you and your child prefer a non-fluoride toothpaste, they are available.


How Much Toothpaste Should Your Kids Use

The ADA recommends that you use a smear of toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice) from the first sign of a tooth until the child is 3 years old. After that point, kids—and adults—are recommended to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste every time they brush their teeth.


Note that you and your kids (once they reach 3 years of age) should use a pea-sized amount regardless of whether you’re using toothpaste for kids or adults.


Why Baking Soda Is Beneficial in Kids’ and Adults’ Toothpaste

Toothpastes with baking soda are beneficial to both kids and adults because they have lower abrasiveness than many toothpastes. Using a more abrasive toothpaste can excessively wear down tooth enamel.


Many different types of adult and children’s toothpastes have similar scores. Still, using a baking soda toothpaste with less abrasivity is an important consideration. Baking soda helps deep clean, gently whiten teeth, and protect your tooth enamel from acids that erode teeth. In other words, it can help preserve your kiddo’s enamel as their permanent teeth develop and help keep them strong to last a lifetime.


ARM & HAMMER™ Toothpastes for Kids and Adults Alike

ARM & HAMMER™ has toothpastes for the whole family in flavors kids and adults can enjoy. ARM & HAMMER™ Toothpastes are made with baking soda so you and your little ones can flash those brilliant and healthy smiles for the next holiday cards – and every day!.


Try These ARM & HAMMER™ Toothpastes for Kids and Adults

  • ARM & HAMMER™ Complete Care Toothpaste is an all-in-one whole mouth protection toothpaste that helps strengthen enamel while fighting cavities, gently whitening teeth, removing plaque, and controlling tartar.
  • ARM & HAMMER™ Peroxicare Toothpaste is a fluoride toothpaste that provides the ultimate deep clean. This toothpaste helps to protect against cavities, improve gum health, freshen breath, and gently whiten teeth.

More Toothbrushing Tips for You and Your Kids

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