Your Child May Be Making This Toothpaste Mistake
- April 10th, 2019
- Pediatric Dental Tips
Chances are you have been raised to brush your teeth twice daily. You have been told about the importance of fluoride in your toothpaste as well as the benefits of receiving a fluoride treatment provided by your dentist once or twice a year. As a parent, you do everything you can to ensure your children are brushing their teeth in the morning and before bedtime. You also ensure they are brushing using a fluoride toothpaste. However, you might be surprised to hear that most children are making a mistake every time they brush their teeth. Here’s what you should know about a common toothpaste mistake made by almost half of children.
Too Much of a Good Thing
According to the CDC, almost 40% of kids in the United States are making a simple mistake whenever they brush their teeth. The mistake circles around fluoride and the amount we need daily. The amount varies based on our age, and recent studies have found that 40% of American children are actually getting too much fluoride due to their brushing habits.
Although we do need to brush twice daily using a fluoride toothpaste to help reduce the risk of cavities and gum disease, applying too much fluoride toothpaste to your toothbrush can be problematic.
What is fluoride?
Fluoride is a natural mineral that is found in your bones and teeth. It has been proven to aid in dental health because it rebuilds weakened tooth enamel and slows down the loss of minerals in tooth enamel. It can even reverse early tooth decay and prevent harmful bacteria from growing in your mouth.
How much is enough?
The recommended amount of toothpaste to apply to your child’s toothbrush is based on age. Children 3 years and under just require a smear the size of a rice grain, while those between 3 to 6 years require just 0.25 grams which is no more than the size of a pea. The reason age is important is that children do not develop an effective swallowing reflex until the age of 6.
This means while brushing prior to age 6 children are inadvertently digesting fluoride every time they brush. According to research conducted by the National Centre for Chronic Disease and Health Promotion, of the 5,000 plus children and adolescents surveyed, approximately 38% aged three to six were using more toothpaste then they should.
What happens with too much fluoride?
Ingesting too much fluoride while the enamel on a child’s permanent teeth is developing can cause dental fluorosis. Signs of dental fluorosis include discolouration and pitting caused by changes to the enamel structure. We look for signs of dental fluorosis at your regular dental checkups.
Why do we brush?
Brushing is a must as it removes the plaque that forms naturally on teeth after eating. If left on your teeth, this plaque becomes stickier and harder forming into tartar. Tartar cannot be removed by brushing and instead must be removed by our dental office using the proper tools. The bacteria in plaque feed off of sugars in your mouth. As they do so they produce acids which then eat away at your teeth causing cavities.
Proper Brushing Technique
Due to the issues caused by ingesting too much fluoride, parents should supervise children when applying their toothpaste to ensure they are using the recommended amount. This will make sure they receive the preventive benefits of fluoride without ingesting more than they should. Avoiding too much fluoride is especially important for children developing their adult teeth, as this is also the period when their enamel is developing. The right amount of fluoride will protect while reducing the risk of developing dental fluorosis.
To ensure your children receive the full benefit of brushing and the right amount of fluoride, you should make sure they brush up on their brushing technique. This will ensure they are removing the sticky plaque that can lead to tartar buildup, remove bacteria and get rid of any food debris in their mouth and between their teeth. Here are some brushing tips for parents to follow:
- Have children brush for two minutes to remove plaque before any acid is produced
- Use an electric toothbrush as they come with timers and are also more effective
- Use a child-sized toothbrush to allow them to get the toothbrush around all areas of their mouth
- Use a medium-textured bristle to avoid harming their gums and teeth
- Use fluoride toothpaste containing 1350-1500 ppm fluoride, applying no more than the recommended amount
- Make sure your children spit out any remaining toothpaste after brushing but do not have them rinse with water or mouthwash
Sugar and Cavities
As already mentioned, bacteria in our mouths feed on sugar. Sugar is found in most foods we eat including healthy choices such as fruit. However, sugars added to food are far worse than the sugars that occur naturally. These sugars are easy for bacteria to consume, especially when compared to protein and complex carbs. This allows bacteria to eat more of the sugars and produce more harmful acids.
According to the World Health Organization and NHS a child should not eat more than 5% of their daily calorie intake in sugar which is about eight teaspoons per day. However, ideally limiting sugar altogether is the healthiest and safest bet. Fluoride also improves the remineralizing effects of saliva to help teeth protect against acids produced by sugar-eating bacteria.
What happens without fluoride?
According to a study by the University of Alaska in Anchorage, a review of Medicaid dental claim billing records indicated that children who received “optimal” community water fluoridation had an average of 1.55 cavities annually compared to 2.52 procedures for cavities in children who did not. Fluoride has been related to the reduction of dental cavities and cavities in the United States and brushing is recommended as soon as children see their first tooth erupt. This is also a good time to consider scheduling your child’s first dental appointment. The CDC recommends people of all ages drink optimally fluoridated water in hand with twice daily brushing using a fluoride toothpaste.
If you would like more information about fluoride, call Smile Town today at (877) 749-9981 or contact us here.