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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New AAC for Cascadia Timber Supply

New cut level includes 65,740 cubic metres for the B.C. Timber Sales Cariboo-Chilcotin Business Area

Quesnel Bikers find friendly people in southern Laos

Chris and Heather Hartridge invited to join a community Buddhist ceremony

Billy Barker and Sky-Hi teams tied for second in Quesnel Curling Sponsor League

Sky-Hi and CDC sweep away the competition, while Billy Barker and Service Electric win tight matches

Correlieu Floor Hockey League season about to begin

Quesnel high school students and staff will play 36 games this season

Wilf Smith Memorial Curling League Lions Cup Bonspiel a hit

Special Olympics curlers team up with other league members in annual Quesnel competition

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

Alessia Cara to host and perform at 2020 Juno Awards

Multi-platinum Canadian singer-songwriter also up for six awards, including Artist of the Year

Most Read