Study: Many small kids in U.S. are using too much toothpaste

Fluoride needs to be used carefully, says pediatric dentist

(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

Too many young kids are using too much toothpaste, increasing their risk of streaky or splotchy teeth when they get older, according to a U.S. government survey released Thursday.

About 40 per cent of kids ages 3 to 6 used a brush that was full or half-full of toothpaste, even though experts recommend no more than a pea-sized amount, the study found.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention findings were based on a survey of parents of more than 5,000 kids ages 3 to 15.

Health officials recommend that all people drink fluoridated water, and that everyone 2 or older brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.

ALSO READ: Clearbrook water once again named best in the world

But the amount is important. Children under 3 are only supposed to use a smear of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice. Kids 3 to 6 are supposed to keep it to a pea-sized amount.

“Fluoride is a wonderful benefit but it needs to be used carefully,” said Dr. Mary Hayes, a pediatric dentist in Chicago.

Young kids may push for independence in brushing their teeth, but kids’ toothpaste tastes sweet.

“You don’t want them eating it like food,” Hayes said. “We want the parent to be in charge of the toothbrush and the toothpaste.”

Fluoride is a mineral found in water and soil. More than 70 years ago, scientists discovered that people whose drinking water naturally had more fluoride also had fewer cavities. That led to efforts to add fluoride to tap water, toothpaste, mouthwash and other products. Experts say fluoride had helped drive down rates of tooth decay in U.S. teens and adults.

But too much fluoride when teeth are forming can lead to tooth streaking or spottiness — known as dental fluorosis. In extreme cases, teeth can be pitted by the mineral, though many cases are so mild only dentists notice it.

Past studies have suggested fluorosis has been increasing for at least three decades, and can affect as many as 2 out of 5 adolescents.

The new study did not follow the kids through time or try to determine how many developed streaked or spotty teeth as a result of using too much toothpaste.

The authors acknowledged other limitations. Parents might have misremembered how much toothpaste kids used when they were younger. Also, the survey didn’t ask specifically about what kinds of toothpaste were used; not all kinds of children’s toothpaste have fluoride in them.

The study found about 60 per cent of kids brushed their teeth twice a day. It also found that roughly 20 per cent of white and black kids, and 30 per cent of Hispanic kids, didn’t start brushing until they were 3 or older.

___

The Associated Press Health & Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Mike Stobbe, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

UPDATE: Senior found after search of north Nanaimo-Lantzville area

Wayne Strilesky found safe in thick brush by search and rescue canine team

UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP locate woman who didn’t return from trip

Nanaimo RCMP report Rachelle Dawn Walton, reported missing July 23, has been found

Hearings begin as Vancouver Island mom fights for allegedly abducted daughter

Tasha Brown now in Jersey in the British Isles, fundraiser being held in Nanaimo

Swollen Members rapper Madchild to perform at the Queen’s

Rapper’s new album ‘Demons’ reflects on his struggles with drug addiction

Another section of Bruce Avenue closing for construction

New curbs, gutters, lighting installation will detour traffic to Howard Avenue for three weeks

Clean the house, prep for your next trip: Tips to nix the post-vacation blues

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

Couple could go to jail for taking 88 lbs. of Italian sand

Pair said they didn’t know it was illegal to take the sand, which is protected as a public good

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft: RCMP

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

UPDATED: V.I. Raiders earn first win of the season

Raiders blow out Kamloops Broncos in home opener in Nanaimo

VIDEO: RCMP unveil new, state-of-the-art forensics lab

The laboratory is expected to handle thousands of forensic services from across Canada annually

Most Read