Your Kids are Probably Using Too Much Toothpaste (And It Isn’t Good)

Your Kids are Probably Using Too Much Toothpaste (And It Isn’t Good)

If your kids are using toothpaste on their teeth and not mushing it in their hair, that’s a large achievement as a parent – just be sure they aren’t using too much of it.

That’s the latest message from a new Centers for Disease Control study that found many young kids use too much fluoride paste, which can damage developing teeth and cause pitting and discolorations.

Currently, nearly 40% of kids ages three to six use excess toothpaste that leads to damaged teeth.


So How Much Toothpaste Kids Should Use?

The American Dental Association recommends following these guidelines:

  • Kids ages 2-3: rice grain-sized smear
  • Kids ages 3 and older: pea-sized amount

“When one eats a lot of carbs and sugar, the bacteria in your mouth produce acid and this acid weakens your teeth and eats away the enamel,” Untray T. Brown, DDS, MPH, at NYU Winthrop Hospital’s Center for Family Dental Medicine tells “Fluoride helps remineralize the tooth. Secondly, it helps kill the bacteria.”

Related: When to Start Using Fluoride Toothpaste with Kids

But going to heavy on the fluoride at young ages can lead to a condition called dental fluorosis, or when the teeth undermineralize. Side effects include faint white spots and streaking, though severe cases can lead to pitting, dark brown discoloration, and sometimes defects in the enamel. Kids are most at risk for this because their smile is still developing.

About 20% of 3- to 6-year-olds in the survey filled their toothbrush halfway; 18% loaded it fully. The data comes from about 5,000 parents and caregivers, who answered questions on behalf of their children.

Photo Credit: carballo/; Romrodphoto/

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