Perspective

Nearly 80% of children began toothbrushing later than recommended

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.

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.

    Perspective
    Judith Haber

    Judith Haber

    The MMWR study findings highlight the unique role that primary care providers, including physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and physician assistants, can play in promoting pediatric preventive oral health practices. Children have up to 12 primary care well-child visits by age 3 years. 

    Primary care providers have multiple opportunities to integrate oral health assessments, educate parents about the importance of supervised, twice-a-day, 2-minute toothbrushing with a smear or a pea-sized portion of fluoride toothpaste, apply fluoride varnish, emphasize the value of establishing a dental home and make appropriate referrals to dental colleagues. If this was a standard part of pediatric primary care, we would have a significant impact on promoting oral health and preventing early childhood caries. 

    • Judith Haber, PhD, APRN, FAAN
    • The Ursula Springer Leadership Professor in Nursing
      Executive director, Oral Health Nursing Education and Practice Program
      New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing

    Disclosures: Haber reports no relevant financial disclosures.