Kids using too much toothpaste says CDC

Henrietta Brewer
February 5, 2019

Almost 40 percent of kids ages 3- to 6-years-old use more toothpaste than recommended by dentists, a CDC study found.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children today are using too much toothpaste to brush their teeth.

The recommended toothpaste amount for children at three to six years old is of pea-size, and for those under three about a rice grain, according to the report.


The CDC wants parents to take charge of the amount of toothpaste their child has on their toothbrush, as "supervision is emphasized as a critical role for the parent or caregiver as the child first begins using a toothbrush and toothpaste". The CDC and the American Dental Association recommend that children in that age group should use no more than a pea-size amount of paste. However brushing with toothpaste is recommended by the ADA and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, as soon as the baby starts teething, at around 6 months.

Further, over one-third of children (34.2 percent) analysed in the study only brushed their teeth once per day, not twice as is recommended to reduce the risk of cavities. Symptoms of too much fluoride can also manifest in pitting and enamel discoloration.

"What's really happening is that parents are following the rules of brushing twice a day, but they might not always be there", paediatric dentist Alene Marie D'Alesio from the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, who wasn't involved in the study, told The New York Times.


"The findings suggest that children and adolescents are engaging in appropriate daily preventive dental health practices", the authors write, "however, implementation of recommendations is not optimal".

However, the study showed that when teeth are forming, too much fluoride can lead to tooth streaking or spottiness or dental fluorosis. The analysis was based on data from 2013 to 2016. But just over 20 percent of parents or caregivers in the study reported that their child started brushing before age 1. Additionally, participants were not asked to specify whether the toothpaste had fluoride. The main problem is ingesting too much fluoride while the teeth are still developing.


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