Young children use too much toothpaste, a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published this week found.

The CDC interviewed the parents or guardians of 5,157 children aged 3 to 15 years. They were asked a series of questions, such as the amount of toothpaste used by their child and the number of times a day their child brushed their teeth.

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In the end, the health agency concluded that almost 40% of children between the ages of three and six were using a full or half full toothpaste brush, that is, they exceeded the CDC recommendation. to consume only a quantity of peas at this age. Children under three should use even less – a "smear" – which, according to the health agency, should be equivalent to a grain of rice.

Although the fluoride in toothpaste and water has resulted in dental health benefits – such as preventing tooth decay and caries – "Ingesting too much fluoride during tooth formation can result in visible changes in enamel structure, such as discoloration", as well as dental fluorosis, according to the CDC. The last condition causes streaks and stains on the teeth.

Fluoride – a mineral found in water and soil – "is a great benefit, but it must be used with care," Mary Hayes, a Chicago-based pediatric dentist, told The Associated Press. I do not want them to eat it like food. We want the parent to be responsible for the toothbrush and toothpaste. "

The study also found that nearly 80% of children aged 3 to 15 years had started brushing their teeth later than was recommended, or when "the first tooth bursts" – which the CDC has noted can take place as early as six months of age.

According to the study, about 60% of children brush their teeth twice a day – as recommended by health authorities – about 20% of black and white children and 30% of Hispanic children have not started to brush their teeth before three years. age or older.

While the CDC stated that the findings "suggest that children and adolescents adopt appropriate preventive practices in everyday dental health", "the implementation of the recommendations is not optimal".

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"Careful monitoring of fluoride consumption improves the preventative benefit of fluoride while reducing the risk of excessive intake of fluoride by young children during critical periods of enamel formation of secondary teeth" , added the CDC.

That said, the new study did not follow children in time and did not attempt to determine how many teeth developed were streaked or spotted as a result of excessive toothpaste use. The authors also recognized other limitations. Parents may not have considered the amount of toothpaste used by younger children. In addition, the survey did not ask a specific question about the types of toothpaste used; not all children's toothpaste contains fluoride.

Associated Press contributed to this report.