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

Electrical appliance failure likely caused apartment fire that killed one Saanich resident

Large parts of the Richmond Road apartment building remain uninhabitable following June 21 fire

Artificial reef created off East Sooke

Divers are discovering plenty of new sea life

Vaping a growing problem in Sooke School District

Island’s chief medical officer raises the alarm

UPDATED: Wanted man facing sex-related charges arrested by Sidney North Saanich RCMP

West Shore RCMP asked for the public’s help locating Richard Tom, 32, earlier this month

Canadians smoke less according to community health survey

Obesity and heavy drinking rates remain steady

VIDEO: Stop-motion artist recreates Kawhi Leonard’s famous buzzer-beater

It took Jared Jacobs about 40 hours to make the video, on top of the research

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of June 25

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you think the penalty should be increased for tossing a burning cigarette from a vehicle?

With grasslands and forests around Vancouver Island and across B.C. reaching tinder… Continue reading

Rock slide in B.C. river may hinder salmon passage

DFO says it is aware that the slide occurred in a narrow portion of the Fraser River

Four-hour tarmac delay violates charter rights of Canadians with a disability: lawsuit

Bob Brown says new rules reduce the distance he can travel by air without putting his health at risk

UPDATE: Shrapnel narrowly missed firefighters in ‘suspicious’ North Island house fire

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Most Read