Too many children using too much toothpaste

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.


Other trends

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.

Early pediatric dental care important

Adults know they should brush and floss twice daily, and see their dentist every six months. But many young parents aren’t aware of when their children should begin seeing a pediatric dentist.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a dental appointment when the first tooth appears or no later than baby’s first birthday.

(Similar to a pediatrician, pediatric dentists and orthodontists specialize in oral health for children from infancy through adolescence. Pediatric dentists attend two additional years of specialized training in children’s behavior, growth, and development.)

This first visit is full of valuable information about the proper way to clean infant teeth, feeding habits, and pacifier use. First Impressions calls this protocol Best Care. This conversation between dentist and parent/caregiver sets toddlers up for greater success when it comes to their dental health and healthy habits as they grow. Establishing healthy habits early is integral to preventing decay and maintaining oral health.

This first appointment also includes an exam. Thereafter, exams are typically only needed yearly until the child reaches age three.

This preventive care pays off both in the short-term as well as long-term. In fact, a 2014 study reported by Pediatric Dentistry confirms that children who visit a dentist by age one have 3.5 fewer cavities.

So let’s support young parents. Share your knowledge and encourage a dentist visit before their child blows out that first birthday candle!

Welcome Dr. Joe

Like our patients, First Impressions is growing! We are excited to announce the addition of Dr. Joe Jackson to our practice. He is now accepting new patients at our Wausau and Plover locations.  

Dr. Joe practiced pediatric dentistry in both private practice and for a regional health consortium in Juneau, Alaska, before calling Wausau home.

 He was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His love of the Midwest began while pursuing his Doctorate of Dentistry from the Indiana School of Dentistry. He also quickly realized he enjoyed working with children and completed his Masters in Pediatric Dentistry at The Ohio State University while completing his residency at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

In 2012 Dr. Joe received the Richard C. Pugh Award for scoring in the top 3% of candidates taking the written specialty exam. He is active in the American Board of Pediatric Dentistry, the American Dental Association, and the Wisconsin Dental Association.

He is looking forward to helping local children establish healthy dental habits. “Early healthy habits can set children up for a lifetime of healthy smiles,” he explains. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a dental appointment when the first tooth appears, or no later than baby’s first birthday.

He and his fiancée Jenn and are excited for all the outdoor recreational opportunities the area offers. In his free time he enjoys rock climbing, CrossFit, meditation, and reading.

Dr. Ned Markey and team assist Panama mission

Dr. Ned Markey of First Impressions’ Wausau and Medford locations, and two of his dental assistants, Connie Brown and Lindsey Frahm, recently returned from a remote jungle region of Panama after providing dental care to children. 

Markey and his assistants, along with his wife, Molly, and their three daughters, took part in a mission for the organization Floating Doctors.

For a week, Markey and his assistants provided dental services to children in several remote villages of the First Nations peoples, Ngäbe-Buglé, of Panama. Dental care is almost impossible for them. In addition, access to toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental hygiene supplies is almost nonexistent, and increasingly sugary diets result in severe dental issues being ubiquitous throughout the region.  

Markey and his team provided services from extractions and fillings to cleanings and dental hygiene education. They funded the trip entirely on their own, including all travel costs, and donated the materials they used during the mission.

Floating Doctors points out that, “over 80% of the world’s population lives within five miles of a coast, but far too many communities still live in remote poverty without access to basic health care. Poorly-charted waters and rugged terrain, political factors, social disenfranchisement, poor health knowledge, poverty, and lack of infrastructure separate these communities from care.” The Floating Doctors medical team, along with volunteers such as Markey, Brown, and Frahm, answer these challenges to health and deploy medical teams by boat.

They had talked about volunteering for a long time. Markey says they decided on this particular organization and location because the need is significant, Spanish is the language of the region, and the area is tropical and mountainous while also being relatively safe. He adds, “I wanted to help kids that really had no other hope for seeing a dentist.”

When asked why he and his wife took their children along on this week-long immersive experience, Markey says, “I want my kids to experience what life is like outside of our little Wausau, Wis. bubble, and the USA. I want them to appreciate hard work and the amenities that we enjoy here at home.” What a great opportunity for that this was. All participants stayed at the Floating Doctors medical support base on Isla San Cristobal; the headquarters is an off-the-grid remote facility located on a mangrove island, relying on solar power, rain catchment and filtration, and bio-treatment of waste. There is no air conditioning, but electric fans and mosquito nets were provided for every bed. The kitchen is run by a team of women and men from the neighboring village of Valle Escondido. 

For more information on Floating Doctors, visit

What is a pediatric dentist?

As a parent, you want to do everything you can to keep your children healthy and happy. Thankfully, when it comes to your children’s dental care and taking care of that precious smile, there are pediatric dentists available to provide the best care possible.

So what exactly is a pediatric dentist, and what do they do?

What sets apart pediatric dentists from general dentists is their training. Pediatric dentists received additional instruction on managing pediatric oral conditions, in addition to 2-3 years of specialized training in children’s behavior, growth, and development. This specialty training allows them to develop a deep understanding of the care of children. The pediatric dentists at First Impressions recognize no two children are alike. We approach each patient individually – and identify and address your child’s specific needs and personality.

You’ll also find that the atmosphere inside a pediatric dentist office is tailored toward kids, from the furnishings to the demeanor of the hygienists and assistants. At First Impressions, everything was designed to make going to the dentist an anxiety-free experience – from the brightly-colored walls and child-sized furniture to the iPads in the waiting room. “Because children are our sole focus, we make sure that everything we do is tailored to their needs and comfort,” says Dr. Tom Turner, Pediatric Dentist and Owner.

All of this is done so you can be confident your children are given expert care in a patient and understanding environment. Having positive experiences at the dentist in childhood helps establish a lifelong healthy approach to regular dental visits. And that’s something to smile about!