Brushing your teeth is one of the most important habits you’ll pick up as a child. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many children in the US are doing it wrong.
The new research looked at the tooth-cleaning habits of 5,157 children and teenagers across the US. Out of the 5,157 children, nearly 40% of those aged 3 to 6 years were using way too much toothpaste.
People might think that too much toothpaste is better than little, but the CDC warns that children using an adult-sized portion of toothpaste comes with its own threats.
How the use of fluoride toothpaste affects your teeth
Usually, most of the benefit from brushing arises from toothpaste. The main element is fluoride, which evidence shows prevents tooth decay. Fluoride not only replaces lost minerals in teeth but also makes them stronger and tougher. But excessive fluoride can also cause different complications.
The main problem of using too much toothpaste is ingesting too much fluoride while the teeth of children are still developing. This can cause a lack of mineralization of the tooth’s enamel called “fluorosis”. This can lead to teeth discoloration and an unpleasant spotted appearance of teeth.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring chemical found in drinking water, food, and toothpaste. It helps to lessen the occurrence of tooth decay.
Fluoride can also replace lost minerals of teeth which help make them tougher. It’s a regular target for mistaken and often strange conspiracy theories, but its adverse effects are often excessive.
In this regard, fluoride overdoing is largely a cosmetic problem. Researchers of the study stated that no doubt fluoride is a great benefit but it must be used carefully.
The study also discovered that over a third, 34.2%, of the kids with age 3 to 15 years only brushed their teeth once a day, not the recommended twice a day. Brushing your teeth might not be the most fun two minutes of a day, but, it’s always worth making that tiny bit of effort to brush twice a day, not just once.
Guidance for parents
This study also brings up some guidance for parents. First of all, they should supervise their children especially when they are just starting to brush their teeth. According to the CDC, kids aged 3 and under should use toothpaste “a smear the size of a rice grain”.
While children between 3 and 6 years should use a pea-sized amount. The CDC also recommends that parents should not introduce fluoride toothpaste to their children until they turn 2.
The findings of the study propose that kids and adolescents are engaging in daily preventive dental health practices; however, execution of commendations is not optimum.
Health care professionals have an opportunity to instruct caregivers and parents about recommended toothbrushing practices. This helps them to make sure that kids are getting the maximum preventive effect by using the recommended amount of fluoride toothpaste under parental supervision.