Many young children are using more toothpaste than is needed. Is your child one of them?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a study indicating that nearly 40 percent of the three- to six-year-olds studied were using more toothpaste than recommended by dental professionals.
Swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause dental fluorosis, a condition causing discoloration of teeth including white lines and streaks. Fluorosis only affects children because damage only occurs while teeth are developing under gums.
How much toothpaste?
First Impressions reminds parents that children three years and older should use a pea-size squeeze of toothpaste.
Children under three should only use a small smear of toothpaste – like a grain of rice. Use an ADA-approved fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first tooth erupts.
Pediatric dentists also urge parents to understand that the study reminds parents of the proper amount of fluoride toothpaste to use. They should not to stop using fluoride toothpaste altogether.
Interestingly, the CDC also discovered that nearly 80 percent of children studied began brushing their teeth later than recommended. The American Association of Pediatric Dentists (AAPD) recommends that parents begin brushing their child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts. Sometimes this happens as early as six months, but usually not past one year old. Yet only about 20 percent of the parents included in the report said they helped their child brush their teeth by age one.
One caveat: the report relied on parents self-reporting the information. The researchers did not directly observe the brushing technique and toothpaste use of the children. It’s possible that parents may misinterpret how much toothpaste their children are really using.
How old should children be before they brush without supervision? Parents should stick around until at least age six.