Overuse of toothpaste puts many young American children at increased risk for splotchy or streaky teeth when they're older, a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey finds. Fluoride also replaces lost minerals in teeth to help make them tougher.
"Fluoride is a wonderful benefit but it needs to be used carefully", Dr Mary Hayes, a pediatric dentist in Chicago, told The Associated Press. Also, it is unknown if the toothpaste reported was fluoride or non-fluoride.
The recommended toothpaste amount for children at three to six years old is of pea-size, while those under three should use a smear the size of a rice grain, according to the report.
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.
Young kids may push for independence in brushing their teeth, but kids' toothpaste tastes sweet. The CDC and the American Dental Association recommend that children in that age group should use no more than a pea-size amount of paste.
"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". This can lead to a lack of mineralization of the tooth's enamel known as "fluorosis", which can cause discoloration of the teeth and an unpleasant mottled appearance. That led to efforts to add fluoride to tap water, toothpaste, mouthwash and other products. "We want the parent to be in charge of the toothbrush and the toothpaste", noted Hayes. The CDC also noted that almost 80% of the children studied started brushing their teeth later than recommended. Even so, 60 percent of the children brushed for the recommended twice a day.
One problem, Shenkin said, is that parents tend to receive contradictory advice on how much toothpaste children should be using, as well as whether the youngest children should be using fluoride toothpaste at all.
In 2014, the dental association changed its guidelines and recommended that parents brush their children's teeth twice a day with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste as soon as they erupt.