In continuing coverage, The New York Times (2/3, Jacobs) reports that a CDC study has found “nearly 40 percent of children ages 3 to 6 used more toothpaste than recommended by dental professionals.” The article notes that the ADA and CDC suggest parents of children in that age range apply “no more than a pea-size amount of toothpaste on their brush.” For children under three, the ADA recommends parents use “only a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste – roughly the size of a grain of rice.” For youngsters with developing teeth, ingesting too much fluoride toothpaste may cause dental fluorosis, which “does not affect overall dental health, but it can lead to white lines or streaks on the teeth, the American Dental Association said.” ADA spokesman Dr. Jonathan Shenkin said the findings are a “red flag” that parents do not adequately understand toothpaste application guidelines. For children under three, the ADA recommends parents brush their children’s teeth twice a day as soon as they erupt with fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than the size of a grain of rice. Dr. Shenkin said the findings do not suggest parents should stop using fluoride toothpaste, but rather to “use it in the proper quantity so your children don’t swallow too much.”
Dental professionals can point their patients to the ADA’s consumer website, MouthHealthy.org, which shows an illustration of the recommended amount of fluoride toothpaste to use when brushing children’s teeth and also features A Mom’s Guide to Fluoride. The ADA Catalog features the Fluoride: Nature’s Cavity Fighter brochure.