Learn to check the labels and choose a toothpaste that’s safe for your child and tastes good as well.
By Ghazal Alagh
Making kids brush their teeth can be a difficult task for most parents, but choosing the right toothpaste is even tougher. While a toothpaste with a pleasant taste may help parents open locked jaws, it might also tempt kids into swallowing the foam. Most toothpaste variants available in the market contain harmful substances that aren’t safe for consumption. Finding toothpaste that is safe, tasty and offers dental protection to their little ones, without any side effects, is every parent’s dream.
Choosing non-toxic toothpaste for children is necessary as they are vulnerable to harmful ingredients, every time they brush. These ingredients get absorbed by the body, even without ingestion, though children do swallow toothpaste often. When the toothpaste tastes like mint or strawberries, who wouldn’t want to?
The hunt for a truly safe toothpaste doesn’t end with a label that says no-fluoride. Most toothpaste brands do not explicitly spell out harmful ingredients on tubes, so it is up to the vigilant eyes of the parents to pick out safe options for their kids. Read on to know more about what makes a toothpaste safe or unsafe.
Alarming ingredients: What to watch out for?
Most conventional and supposedly kid-friendly toothpaste brands, including those that are household habits, have chemicals in them. Besides fluoride, there are many ingredients that a parent should watch out for when purchasing toothpaste. Here is a run-down:
Surfactants such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are chemicals that make toothpaste foam. Found in many soaps, shampoo and toothpaste, SLES can cause multiple allergies and long-term side-effects.
Triclosan is a common antibacterial component found in toothpaste that reacts with chlorinated water and forms carcinogenic chloroform.
Artificial coloring agents such as titanium dioxide are commonly found in children’s toothpaste. Titanium dioxide is believed to be carcinogenic in nanoparticle form.
Saccharin and other artificial sweeteners are used to sweeten toothpaste. Consuming saccharin is known to have neurotoxic effects in some people, thereby making it a bad ingredient for children’s toothpaste.
What are the alternatives?
When searching for a safe toothpaste for their baby or infant, parents should look for a toxin-free certification. Such an assurance goes a long way in keeping their worries at bay. Natural alternatives and high-quality ingredients such as Xylitol, Aloe, and Stevia can strengthen babies’ gums and children’s teeth without any side-effects. Xylitol is a natural plant ingredient that protects the teeth from tooth decay and plaque formation, while Aloe Vera Gel relieves sore gums when the milk teeth come through.
Only a completely natural toothpaste without any toxins is suitable for kids. Besides taking care of oral hygiene, a toothpaste should be safe when swallowed. A surprisingly high number of children love the flavour of their toothpaste so much that they swallow the foam. The absence of fluoride, SLS/SLES, parabens, phthalates, and petrochemicals in a toothpaste is a good indicator that it is safe for children. To sum it up, an all-natural toothpaste that is free of chemicals and toxins and doesn’t taste all that bad works great for kids.
(The writer is co-founder, MamaEarth.)