Smearing toothpaste on your toothbrush is a mindless action many of us don’t even pay attention to. In most cases, for adults, this is fine. But for parents of young children, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a stern warning: Pay extra close attention to how much toothpaste your kids are using.
How Much is Too Much?
The CDC says that 40% of children between the ages of 3-6 are using more toothpaste than recommended by dentists.
So how much should kids use?
Both the CDC and the American Dental Association recommend children that age only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, and kids under three should only use “a smear,” no bigger than a grain of rice.
The findings are based on a self-reporting from parents of 5,157 children between the ages of 3-15 published last week. The survey did not take into account whether the children were using fluoride or non-fluoride toothpaste.
Why is Too Much Toothpaste Bad?
While the amount of toothpaste your kids use might not seem like a big deal, it can actually have negative effects on their health. Using too much toothpaste can damage enamel, for example. If kids swallow too much fluoride as their teeth are developing, they can develop dental fluorosis, essentially causing white marks and discoloration on their teeth.
The CDC doesn’t recommend children start using toothpaste until the age of two. Before then, it is recommended to brush teeth twice daily as soon as they start to grow in, but using only water.
Around 80% of the children included in the survey began brushing later than the CDC recommends.