Toothpaste and Tooth-brushing techniques are in the spotlight. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC) recently published a report about toothpaste and tooth-brushing patterns among children in the US.

Early oral health habits can begin as soon as she has one tooth.

Tooth-brushing early is key to oral health habits.

Toothpaste News You Can Use

The Report stated, “In a survey of tooth-brushing practices, nearly 80% of children aged 3–15 years began tooth-brushing at age ≥1 year…”

  • Plus, the study discovered “approximately one third brushed once daily…”
  • However, it was sad to note they published that “nearly 40% of children aged 3–6 years used too much toothpaste.”

This is one reason we want to reinforce the idea that toddlers need to maintain a dental appointment twice a year.  Only your professional dental health care advisers can give you the skinny on proper amounts of paste to use with toddlers and children.

The report made this very clear, stating, “Health care professionals can educate parents about using the recommended amount of  fluoride toothpaste under parental supervision to realize maximum benefit.”

Toothpaste Questions:  How Can We Help You?

We are the experts on toothpaste and fluoride.  And yet, according to this report, many parents still do not claim a dental home until children are aged three.  If they start brushing and playing with your toothpaste at age one, how do you to know how much toothpaste they are consuming?  A visit to the dentist coordinates parent, dentist and tiny patient with a group effort to form good habits for a lifetime of oral good health habits.

Toothpaste:  How much is too much?

First of all, we urge you, parents and caregivers who might be reading this, to visit the pediatric dentist of your choice by age one, before decay (or caries, as it is termed, can get a foothold.)  Likewise, the dentist at your pediatric dental home will perform a complete check of oral health and establish dental records for your little one.

Plus, when you establish a dental home, your pediatric dentist and hygienist can teach you and your child the amount of toothpaste appropriate for each age level.

A Small Controversy:  Amounts of Fluoride Toothpaste for Toddlers

The one notable place this new CDC report differed from the APPD standards was in the early usage of toothpaste by your toddler.  This is a somewhat mysterious difference, and perhaps, like many differences, might be largely due to semantics or to data collection methods in the new study.

  1. The new CDC report endorses the generalized use of Fluoride toothpaste at age two.
  2. This diverges from much more specific AAPD recommendations, as outlined in our Guideline on Fluoride Therapy 
  3. Much more specifically, the APPD recommends parents dispense only a tiny smear or grain-of-rice-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.  And that is the recommendation you will hear from most pediatric dentists.

AAPD policy states that “the use of fluoride toothpaste helps reduce the risk of cavities.  And it also provides specific guidance to use no more than a smear amount of fluoridated toothpaste for children less than three years of age.”

Joint committees with the AAPD, AAP and the ADA created those standards for pediatric dentists.

Our Toothpaste Guidelines

On the whole, the new CDC report agrees with the AAPD recommendations by reinforcing guidelines on fluoride toothpaste with the one exception noted above.  The new report states that the use of fluoride toothpaste helps reduce the risk of cavities. This is a fact upon which the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the CDC firmly agree.

Toddlers need supervision during tooth-brushing.

Monitor How Much is Too Much Fluoride Toothpaste?

However, Here is the very specific APPD standard,

  • “A smear or rice-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste (approximately 0.1 mg fluoride) should be used for children less than three years of age.”
  • “A pea-sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste (approximately 0.25 mg fluoride) is appropriate for children aged three to six.”

Keep in mind also that the shiny new CDC report is based on observances and survey responses from parents.  Plus, as stated above, the CDC report defers to your dentist’s judgment about the amount of the fluoride toothpaste that is correct for you to use for your child.

Even More Important News:  Parental Involvement is Critical to Preschool Brushing

The most important key to the safe and beneficial use of fluoride as a decay preventative is that only “Parents should dispense the paste onto a soft, age-appropriate sized toothbrush…”  This is a point upon all the dental caregivers, policymakers and researchers can agree.

Likewise, we all agree that parents and caregivers either perform or greatly assist with the tooth-brushing of preschool-aged children.

Parents:  You Are the Toothpaste Police

Your diligent supervision of fluoride intake will improve the cavity-preventive benefit of the chemical.  Plus your supervision also guarantees that your child will not accidentally consume too much fluoride.  We do not want them to “ingest too much fluoride during critical times of enamel formation of the secondary teeth.”

As stated above, and we repeat, the CDC reports “Healthcare professionals can educate parents about using the recommended amount of fluoride toothpaste under parental supervision to realize maximum benefit”—which supports the critical importance of the age one dental visit and establishing a Dental Home.

CDC Admits Shortcomings in the New Study

In fact, the CDC admits three failings in its new report.  They stated:

  • First, “the measures used are based on parents’ self-report, so reporting bias is possible.”
  • Second, “the question about the amount of toothpaste used focuses on the amount currently used and therefore might overestimate the amount that was used at younger ages.
  • Thirdly, “the type of toothpaste (fluoride versus non-fluoride) was not specified.”

    Oral Health Habits Develop Early.

    Brushing is a Family Affair. Respect the Toothpaste.

Likewise, they recommend that future studies should avoid these three flaws.

Early Dental Care:  More than a Toothpaste Issue

At Dentistry for Children, like the AAPD,  we stand by the “reputable science supporting the effectiveness of fluoridated toothpaste in reducing dental caries in children.”

We believe, “The beneficial effects increase in children …with the correct concentration of fluoride toothpaste,  twice daily use, and supervision.

Here at Dentistry for Children, we stand with the “vision of the AAPD,” which hopes for “optimal oral health for all children.”  Also, we stand with the CDC on valuable issues such as “the age one dental visit and establishing a Dental Home.”

We join pediatric dentists all over the nation and the world who believe that the prevention of tooth decay must begin “as soon as the first tooth erupts.”

However, we intend to advise the careful parental monitoring of fluoride toothpaste as stated above.

The good news is that tooth decay is preventable with regular brushing, flossing, and visits to your pediatric dentist.  Thank you for visiting our blog at Dentistry for Children here in central Florida.  As promised, this blog is keeping you up to date on news and information in the world of pediatric dentistry.