Toothpaste physically helps to remove plaque on teeth surfaces which can contribute to tooth decay or gum disease. Most toothpastes also contain fluoride, which makes teeth more resistant to dental caries and also aids in remineralisation of early carious lesions. 

There are many questions around what age toothpaste should be introduced and what is the best type of toothpaste to use. The current recommendation from The Australian Dental Association (ADA) is to introduce age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste from 18 months of age.

How much toothpaste should my child be using?

Before 18 months of age, toothpaste is not required and brushing can occur with water and a soft toothbrush. From 18 months of age, a very light smear (or the size of a grain of rice) of age-appropriate fluoride toothpaste can be used. After age 3, this amount can be upgraded to the size of a pea. Due to the way toothpastes are advertised, it is not surprising to know many adults think a large dollop of toothpaste should be used to cover the entire surface of your toothbrush, in reality, a pea-sized amount for adults is all you need. 

What kind of toothpaste should my child be using?

The most important factor when selecting the most appropriate toothpaste for your child is the age recommendation as this will dictate the amount of fluoride most beneficial to your child’s age group. There are many brands of toothpaste and usually, the brand chosen will depend on what flavour of toothpaste that your child prefers. Children aged under 6 years should use a low fluoride children’s toothpaste, while children aged 6 years and above are recommended to use full adult strength toothpaste, IF they are able to spit out. If your child is at high risk of dental decay, the level of fluoride in their toothpaste will be best guided by their dental practitioner. 

Spit, don’t rinse!

The spit, don’t rinse technique should be used after brushing. This is the opposite to the advice that many many adults had been previously taught, so it may take some getting used to! The dental guidelines recommend that toothpaste is to be spat out after brushing, and not rinsed with water. This leaves a protective toothpaste residue over the teeth to help prevent tooth decay!


1. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste (with parental assistance for children age 9 and under).

2. Parents should apply the toothpaste to the toothbrush to ensure the appropriate amount is dispensed.

3. Over the age of 18 months, a light smear of age-appropriate toothpaste is enough.

4. For age 6+, we recommend a pea sized amount of adult toothpaste.

5. Spit out the toothpaste but don’t rinse!


Whitening toothpastes are not recommended for children as they are more abrasive. Some whitening toothpaste even contain peroxide, which is not safe if children are swallowing the toothpaste.

Most of the time, natural toothpastes do not contain fluoride – therefore it’s protective qualities are limited/non-existent, so we don’t recommend them. There are some brands that have a more natural base that still contains fluoride such as Colgate 0% artificial (0-3, 3-6), Tom’s of Maine Whole Care with fluoride (6+) and MooGoo Natural Base with Fluoride (6+). Natural toothpaste is also often very sweet, this can make transitioning to fluoride toothpaste a difficult task.

You’re not alone, often children do not tolerate mint flavours. Luckily toothpaste manufacturers have finally started to catch on to this and we are seeing an increase in toothpaste brands that make flavours alternative to mint such as fruit flavours. Both colgate and oral-B have these options. Some children are highly sensitive to flavours, so a ‘plain’ flavoured toothpaste may be most suitable. Larger pharmacies often have the best range when it comes to toothpaste.


We are here for you! Feel free to reach out at any time or at your child’s next dental appointment!


Need to see a visual how much toothpaste we should be using… It not about completely covering your toothbrush!

Heres an interesting video on the reasons why children should NOT swallow toothpaste! 

Thanks to our wonderful Oral Health Therapist, Carlee
She works at the Essendon clinic.
If you would like to talk to her or any of our amazing team, about this or any other questions you may have, please contact us on 03 9372 8960.

Carlee Wooding