The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning parents that their kids are likely using too much toothpaste. A new study released Thursday found that many children use more than the recommended pea-sized amount while brushing, which could stain teeth over time.
“Fluoride prevents dental caries; however, excessive ingestion by young children can discolor and pit the permanent teeth,” the report explains.
Running from 2013 to 2016, the study analyzed the behaviors of 5,157 children between the ages of three to 15 years old based on responses from the kids’ parents or caregivers. Questions included the age at which the child start toothbrushing, how frequently they brush, and the amount of toothpaste they use.
Researchers found that almost 40 percent of kids ages three to six use a half or full load on their toothbrush, much more than the advised amount of toothpaste.
The CDC, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), and American Dental Association (ADA), recommend no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for children three to six years old and “a smear the size of a grain of rice” for kids under three.
Additionally, children should be brushing their teeth twice a day with those amounts, preferably with a fluoride toothpaste. The CDC also advises that toothbrushing begin when the child’s first tooth erupts. (The study found that 80 percent of children started brushing later than recommended.)
According to the organization, parents play a big role in proper dental care. “Careful supervision of fluoride intake improves the preventive benefit of fluoride, while reducing the chance that young children might ingest too much fluoride during critical times of enamel formation of the secondary teeth,” the report notes.
The CDC does admit, however, that there are limitations to the recent study, as the results are based on the parents’ self-reporting.