What kind of toothpaste do YOU use, Tamara?
Originally posted March 10, 2017
Updated October 25, 2019
This post is in response to questions from so many of you asking what kind of toothpaste we use in our home.
Please note: I have never claimed to be a toothpaste expert, (just a Lead expert!), and this post discusses my personal choices for my family, based on daily considerations I have as a result of the unique needs of my own children. I completely understand if you make other choices for your children (and I know there are many considerations when it comes to choosing a toothpaste, beyond the concerns for Lead). Regardless of what type of toothpaste you use (and what all of the considerations are that you are juggling in making this decision), it is super important for me to state (and I cannot emphasize this enough) that I strongly discourage any use of any personal care product that is known to contain unsafe levels of Lead (as Earthpaste and other clay-based toothpastes do)!
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Since we have special needs kids (as a result of them being Lead-poisoned as babies), with various issues ranging from Geographic Tongue (with extreme sensitivity to nearly any and all flavors – and especially to anything spicy like mint!) to general Sensory Processing Disorder (which can include gagging with toothbrushing – among other “fun” reactions), for the first years of our children’s lives we brushed only with water! Even though my older boys have graduated to toothpaste now, we still use very little toothpaste with each brushing – and typically a single tube of toothpaste will last us a year (or sometimes two!)
As the kids have grown older – they are now 11, 14, and 17 (and our oldest one is 23!) – we’ve worked on introducing toothpaste into their routines, starting with fruit-flavored pastes, and eventually graduating to mint, fennel and cloves. Our youngest child ia still not ready for any kind of toothpaste on a regular basis, but our older son unexpectedly liked the cloves flavor when he first tried it!
My guidelines for choosing a toothpaste
For our older boys, as a rule, we stick with toothpastes that:
- are Fluoride-free
- use all natural ingredients
- are not clay-based (clay-based toothpastes like Earthpaste can have high levels of lead.)
- do not have a “Prop 65” warning on the packaging! [With toothpaste, a prop-65 warning usually means the product has tested positive for Lead.]
All of the toothpastes pictured here follow the above guidelines and are Lead-free.
Dental issues with our kiddos…
Our oldest son (who was not Lead-poisoned as a baby, and was not home when his little brothers were poisoned, because he was away at camp) has perfect teeth – and has had almost no cavities his entire life (he had only one significant one when he was about 5 years old.)
Our 2nd son was just about 3 years old when he was poisoned. His teeth are a mess and he has had a lot of cavities that are not related to his dental hygiene (his hygiene is exceptionally good – a side “benefit” of having children with OCD!) The enamel between his front teeth is unusually soft, an issue caused by the fact that his at-the-time-of-his-poisoning not-yet-erupted adult teeth likely absorbed Lead in the place of Calcium, as they were developing in his skull (because Lead bio-mimics Calcium in the body, and it is opportunistically absorbed if it is present when Calcium-rich structures are developing in a child).
Our third son, who was most significantly Lead-poisoned as a very small baby [he was just 7 months old when he was poisoned] has not had an unusual number of cavities (given his age at the time of his poisoning – unfortunately his rapidly developing 7-month-old brain -rather than his teeth – absorbed more of the Lead circulating in his blood). At his most recent checkup he was 100% cavity-free. He also has OCD, and has developed a rather elaborate – and incredibly diligent – toothbrushing / oral care routine. These are two of the tools he uses every single day to keep his teeth clean:
We use the Sonicare® toothbrushes like this one
(they often have good deals on them at Costco!):
Our biggest challenge with my youngest son (and my other sons, when they were younger as well) has been the mechanics of tooth brushing; actually needing to still physically brush his teeth for him (and floss his teeth for him) each and every night – even though he is older (ages by which most parents are no longer brushing their kids’ teeth!). It’s exhausting, and causes nightly struggles, however – frankly we’re just happy we’re not wiping our 11-year-old’s bum anymore (something that just changed in the past year)! That’s often the biggest challenge with special needs kids – you have to do many “normal” parenting things for them a lot longer than with neuro-typical kids!
Our focus as parents when it comes to oral hygiene
As a family, we don’t focus so much on toothpaste brands, but instead focus on limiting sugar (we generally don’t have sugar in our home, and also limit other naturally sugary or starchy foods that promote tooth decay)! And we focus on the best “implements” of dental care. We use a Sonicare electric toothbrush system (recommended by our dentist), and the kids and my husband also use a gum irrigation system by WaterPik. We also have explored a variety of flossers over the years, and have found that these work the best for us:
As a side-note, regarding my own preferences… I personally like a simple natural mint toothpaste like the one sold by Miessence.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.