Many Preschoolers Need to Change the Way They Brush Their Teeth, CDC Says

Your kid needs to brush up on the dos and don’ts to keeping those pearly whites clean.
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profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
February 4, 2019
Preschool boy brushing teeth looking in mirror.
Image: iStock

There really is such a thing as using too much toothpaste—and most kids are guilty of doing it.

More than 38 percent of kids from 3 to 6 years old use more toothpaste than recommended, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says in a new study.

Kids between the ages of 3 and 6 should be using a “pea-sized” amount of paste, and children under 3 should be using a “rice grain” amount. You’ll want to teach your tiny tot to use these specific squeezes because too much fluoride, which is in toothpastes, can alter the enamel structure of developing teeth. Meaning, kids may have discolored teeth or mottled enamel, also known as dental fluorosis.

The CDC also advises parents to check with their pediatrician and dentist before introducing toothpastes with fluoride on kids who are younger than 2 years old.

Need a crash course on the brushing basics for your baby? The first doctor-recommended rule is if you see teeth poking through your little one’s gums, that’s when to start brushing baby teeth. Tooth decay can happen as soon as the first baby tooth comes in, so it’s important to have that baby toothbrush ready to go. Make sure you stick to age-appropriate toothpastes approved by the American Dental Association.

It’s good for big kids to brush their teeth on their own because it helps them learn to be independent. But make sure you’re giving them the dos and don’ts they need before they spread their wings. Teach your young ones how much toothpaste is enough, and the importance of good brushing hygiene.

You can even take the routine up a notch by incorporating fun and effective toothbrushes into the mix.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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