February 01, 2019
2 min read

Nearly 80% of children began toothbrushing later than recommended

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Almost 80% of children aged 3 to 15 years started brushing their teeth later than recommended by the CDC, according to study results published in MMWR.

Researchers also reported that more than 38% of children aged 3 to 6 years used more toothpaste than is recommend by the CDC and other professional organizations.

“Brushing children’s teeth is recommended when the first tooth erupts, as early as 6 months, and the first dental visit should occur no later than 1 year,” the researchers wrote. “However, ingestion of too much fluoride while teeth are developing can result in visibly detectable changes in enamel structure, such as decolorization and pitting (dental fluorosis).”

The researchers analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which included 5,157 children and adolescents aged 3 to 15 years between 2013 and 2016. The survey included questions on toothbrushing practices and toothpaste use among children and adolescents. The researchers analyzed parents’ or caregivers’ responses to questions about when the child started to brush his or her teeth, the age of the child when he or she started to use toothpaste, the frequency of daily toothbrushing and the amount of toothpaste used.

Child and mother brushing their teeth 
Most children do not begin brushing their teeth after their first tooth appears, according to recent MMWR study findings. Researchers suggest that physicians should educate parents and caregivers about recommended toothbrushing practices.
Source: iStock

The researchers reported that half (51%) of the children where white, 14.4% were black and 15.9% were Mexican-American. Parents in more than two-thirds of households had completed more than a high school education.

They wrote that 20.1% of children began brushing their teeth when they were aged younger than 1 year; 38.8% at 1 year; 26.6% at 2 years and 14.5% at 3 years and older.

The AAP, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and American Dental Association recommend that children aged younger than 3 years use a “smear,” which is the size of a grain of rice. Current recommendations for children aged 3 to 7 years is no more than a pea-sized amount (0.25 g).

About one in 10 (12.4%) of children aged 3 to 6 years reportedly used a smear, whereas 49.2% used a pea-sized amount, 20.6% used a half load and 17.8% used a full load of toothpaste on their brush.

“Health care professionals and their organizations have an opportunity to educate parents and caregivers about recommended toothbrushing practices,” the researchers concluded. – by Bruce Thiel

Disclosure: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.