Kids and toothpaste: Too much of a good thing?

Your child may be using too much toothpaste, a new study shows. But overdoing toothpaste is nothing to smile about. In fact, it can hurt kids’ smiles by discoloring teeth.

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that nearly 40 percent of children age 3 to 6 years use far more toothpaste than the American Dental Association (ADA) advises: a pea-sized dot. Kids under 3 need even less—a smear the size of a grain of rice.

Why isn’t more toothpaste better? Kids under 6 often swallow toothpaste, which contains fluoride. And while fluoride is a powerful tool for fighting cavities, ingesting too much at an early age can cause a condition called fluorosis. This condition affects teeth still developing under the gums. It can discolor permanent teeth with white spots, dark stains and pitting.

The CDC study is based on a poll of more than 5,000 parents and caregivers. To learn more, read the full study.

Protect your child’s teeth

Before kids are age 2, they shouldn’t use fluoride toothpaste without a doctor’s or dentist’s OK. After that 2-year milestone, fluoride toothpaste is a must to help prevent cavities—and kids should brush twice every day.

But until age 6, always supervise your child’s brushing to ensure they get the right amount of toothpaste, the CDC cautions. Be sure your child spits it out too.

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