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Study finds US kids use more toothpaste than recommended

In a new study, researchers have found that that children in the U.S. are using more toothpaste than recommended. (Photograph: Africa Studio/Shutterstock)

Mon. 11. February 2019


ATLANTA, U.S.: When it comes to oral health, creating good habits in children can have lasting positive impacts later in life, however as with most things, anything done in excess can also be dangerous. In a recent study, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analyzed 2013–2016 data on different patterns of toothbrushing and the amount of toothpaste used by 5,157 children and adolescents aged between 3 and 15 years, with results revealing many used more toothpaste than is recommended.

In the study, led by oral health specialist Dr. Gina Thornton-Evans from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the researchers looked at data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, from which they established patterns of toothbrushing and toothpaste use by analyzing parents’ or caregivers’ responses to a specific series of questions. These included when the child started to brush his or her teeth, the age at which the child began to use toothpaste, the frequency of toothbrushing each day, and the amount of toothpaste currently used or used at the time of the survey.

According to the results, 38 percent of children aged 3–6 years used more toothpaste than is recommended by CDC and other professional organizations. In addition, nearly 80 percent of children aged 3–15 years started brushing later than recommended.

However, the CDC noted that there were at least three study limitations to be considered. First, the measures used were based on parents’ self-report, so reporting bias was possible; second, the question about the amount of toothpaste used focused on current use and therefore might have overestimated the amount used at younger ages; and third, the type of toothpaste (fluoride versus nonfluoride) was not specified.

Nonetheless, the CDC, along with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), have begun collaborative work to develop messages targeted at pregnant women and new mothers regarding recommended toothbrushing practices. The CDC noted that “parents and caregivers can play a role in ensuring that children are brushing often enough and using the recommended amount of toothpaste.”

CDC, the AAP, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Dental Association recommend that children aged 3–6 years brush their teeth twice daily using a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

The study, titled “Use of toothpaste and toothbrushing patterns among children and adolescents—United States, 2013–2016,” was published on Feb. 1, 2019, on the CDC website.

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