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Too Much of a Good Thing…Kids and Toothpaste

As reported in The New York Times recently, younger kids tend to use more toothpaste than required.
A Center for Disease Control and Prevention study claims that nearly 4 out of 10 children, ages 3 to 6, use an unhealthy amount of toothpaste…and often it’s the parents that are the ones squeezing the tube!

Any more than the American Dental Association’s pea-sized “serving” recommendation is not needed and more than that has dental health professionals issuing this warning: swallowing too much fluoride toothpaste can cause dental fluorosis and actually discolor young teeth.

Dental fluorosis – also known as “mottled enamel” – occurs when teeth are forming under the gums and still developing. While it does not affect dental health, it can lead to white streaks and spots on the teeth.

When you consider that municipal water is treated with fluoride, and then couple this with elevated fluoride ingestion through dental hygiene, you can see why health professionals become concerned.

If your child is under that age of three – it is recommended that only a “smear” of paste be used when brushing.
About the size of a grain of rice.

Dr. Jackie Schafer of Colorado Healthy Smiles says, “Parents KNOW they need to help clean their younger children’s teeth. Now dental health care providers and pediatricians need to make sure we let them know HOW to do this properly.”

“Parents need to be right beside their children when they are brushing. This “teaming” is recommended up until the age 6. But, as a mother, I’d be more inclined for that age to be 8…as many kids will just skip brushing
as one way to establish and assert their personal controls.”

“It’s quite a balancing act; on one hand we see parents starting oral health care too late – on the other, those who start early can overdo it. We want parents to use fluoride toothpaste – we just don’t want their children to swallow too much of it.”

Author Info

Dan Stratford