Your child may be using too much toothpaste, and it’s unhealthy, CDC says

Are you brushing your teeth properly?

Is your child using too much toothpaste? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta think it's a possibility.

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The organization recently surveyed parents and guardians of 5,157 children. The questionnaire asked the subjects when their children started to brush their teeth, how often they brushed each day and the amount of toothpaste they used.

After analyzing the results, they found nearly 40 percent of children ages 3-6 used too much toothpaste. Kids 3 or younger should be using a “smear” of toothpaste, which is about the size of a grain of rice, and children ages 3-6 should be using only a pea-size amount of toothpaste, the CDC recommends.

Why are scientists concerned?

They are worried about the intake of fluoride. While it can prevent cavities, swallowing too much of it can damage the enamel of the teeth.

"Ingestion of too much fluoride while teeth are developing can result in visibly detectable changes in enamel structure such as discoloration," the CDC said in its report.

To combat the issue, the health experts say parents should supervise how much toothpaste their child squeezes onto their toothbrush.

They also said parents should be brushing their child’s teeth as soon as a tooth emerges. Almost 80 percent of the children studied started brushing their teeth later than recommended.

“The findings suggest that children and adolescents are engaging in appropriate daily preventive dental health practices; however, implementation of recommendations is not optimal,” the CDC wrote. “Health care professionals and their organizations have an opportunity to educate parents and caregivers about recommended toothbrushing practices to ensure that children are getting the maximum preventive effect.”

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