Why You Should Think Twice Before Using Children's Toothpaste As An Adult

Tartar buildup on the teeth is something most adults in the U.S. deal with — upwards of 68% of us in fact, reports Framingham Family Dental Care. While not uncommon, some of us experience a more rapid buildup of this hardened substance than others. In time, too much tartar can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, oral infections, and more. By maintaining proper oral hygiene, we can keep our teeth healthy and strong by doing away with plaque before it has the chance to become tartar.

To do so, the American Dental Association (ADA) advises us to thoroughly brush our teeth for two minutes twice daily (via Mayo Clinic), but equally as important as the toothbrush is the toothpaste. Dental experts stress the importance of using a fluoride-containing toothpaste. According to Metro Dental, not only does fluoride help protect against bacteria, but it replenishes our tooth enamel with minerals lost from everyday use, such as chewing (via The Healthy). Both children's toothpaste and toothpaste made for adults contain fluoride, but even so, you may not want to get into a regular habit of reaching for a tube of kids' toothpaste — despite all their tempting flavors.

Adults need more fluoride than kids to maintain good oral health

To protect against children swallowing potentially dangerous levels of fluoride, kids' toothpaste contains less fluoride than what's found in adult tubes of toothpaste (via The Healthy). While this is beneficial for children's safety, these smaller amounts are not enough to meet the oral health needs of adults. Between habits like grinding our teeth and the consumption of acidic beverages like sodas, coffee, or wine (via SF Dental), we need fluoride levels that are able to keep up with the toll that day-to-day adult life can take on our teeth.

If you're in a pinch and children's toothpaste is all you can find, Dr. Frederick Baker of Lakeview Dental Associates in Parsippany, NJ suggests using an adult fluoride mouthwash to up your fluoride content. Dr. Baker explains, telling The Healthy, "If you're only using a kids' toothpaste, and no mouthwash, the enamel on your adult teeth is more susceptible to tooth decay ... You should look for mouthwash that has a good level of sodium fluoride and an alcohol-free base."