United States children use more toothpaste than recommended

Pearl Mccarthy
February 5, 2019

Almost 40 per cent of USA children aged three to six used more toothpaste than recommended by dentists, a CDC study found.

Specifically, a new analysis of the dental hygiene habits of children and adolescents in the USA reveals that nearly 40 percent of young American kids are using too much toothpaste when they brush their teeth.

However, the study showed that when teeth are forming, too much fluoride can lead to tooth streaking or spottiness or dental fluorosis. More than 70 years ago, researchers had discovered that human beings whose drinking water had more fluoride naturally also had fewer cavities.

For the study, the researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included parents of more than 5,000 kids ages three to 15.

"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". In kids 3 to 6, about 12 % used a smear, 49.2% used a pea-dimension quantity, 20.6% used a half load, and 17.8% used a full amount.

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Brushing several times a day using toothpaste may not always be a good idea, according to the new study. Pediatric dentist further said, "You don't want them eating toothpaste like food".

But while it might be hard to control how kids brush their teeth, it's important, researchers say - and not just in terms of toothpaste volume. The CDC additionally noticed that nearly 80 percent of kids ageing 3 to 15 years began brushing later than the suggested age of a half year. Parents should be squeezing no more than a pea-size amount of toothpaste on their children's toothbrushes, according to the CDC and American Dental Association. This new survey reveals that most babies (80 percent) are made to start brushing after the age of 1 year.

Fluoride use could help avoid tooth decay, but the CDC recommended children to begin using fluoride toothpaste at two years old, so as to prevent inadvertent ingestion of too much fluoride and the potential risk of dental fluorosis. That led to efforts to add fluoride to tap water, toothpaste, mouthwash and other products.

Limitations of this survey were that parents self reported the brushing habits of their kids and were not observed first hand. This is mainly because of the excess fluoride that is swallowed by children in the toothpaste.

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