If your kids are anything like mine, then ensuring that their teeth are properly brushed is an ongoing battle. I’m not sure what it is about small human beings, but teeth brushing ranks just above bedtime in terms of their total disinterest in it.
In keeping with this struggle, the Center For Disease Control (CDC) just released a study that might be a bombshell of a revelation for them, but common frigging knowledge for every.parent.EVERYWHERE. Their findings?
Almost 40 percent of young American kids are using too much toothpaste when they brush their teeth.
No shit, Sherlock.
The CDC report included the results of a survey of over five thousand children & teens regarding their daily brushing habits, and offers several guidelines to improve a child’s dental hygiene.
…and let’s first pause right there. I’m immediately a bit skeptical of their findings, because if they’re based on the word of the kids to their parents in the survey, well, here’s a mom truthbomb for you- kids LIE.
Especially when it comes to teeth brushing- how many of you have asked your child if she or he has brushed their teeth, only to demand to smell their breath… because despite their claims, you know better.
And once you get a whiff of your kids’ breath, blasted at you like a dragon breathing diarrhea-fire, you know the brushing never happened.
Or if it did -let’s just say that the toothbrush made contact with water and then made actual contact with the child’s mouth- you know the next logical question of every veteran parent:
“But did you use toothpaste??”
But as the report states, many of the children surveyed do indeed use toothpaste- but the wrong amount. While half of the children three to six years of age use the correct, pea-sized amount of toothpaste recommended, 20.6% are using a “half load”, and 17.8% are using the “full load”.
Once again…. every parent of small children everywhere knew that.
One look at your bathroom sink once a child has brushed his or her teeth makes it painfully evident that there’s way too much toothpaste being used.
Or rather, one look at your bathroom sink, floor, walls, and sometimes toilet makes it quite obvious that while your child’s teeth may not be getting all of that excess toothpaste, the rest of your bathroom is now minty fresh.
But there’s good reason to limit your child’s toothpaste quantity to a pea-sized amount, and not just for your bathroom decor’s sake.
Too much toothpaste consumption can mean too much fluoride consumption; as the CDC’s report states:
Ingestion of too much fluoride while teeth are developing can result in visibly detectable changes in enamel structure such as discoloration and pitting.
The report also made a few useful suggestions for maintaining your child’s dental hygiene, such as scheduling your child’s first dental exam by the age of one, and beginning to brush as soon as your child’s first tooth appears (around roughly six months of age).
One of the important guidelines that the CDC also stressed was that parents were to be an integral part of their child’s twice-daily brushing routine.
As dentist Mary Hayes explained to Associated Press:
“You don’t want them eating it like food. We want the parent to be in charge of the toothbrush and the toothpaste.”
So many thoughts on this one! Yes, the parent should ideally be in charge of the brushing in order to model it correctly for the child.
While I understand that in principle, in practice it’s often a different story. Anyone who has attempted to wrangle a toothbrush from the fist of a wailing banshee of a threeanger who insists on doing it themselves knows how arduous this daily task soon becomes.
While we do it anyway, it blows.
And after reading this report, I’m cringing at the memory of stumbling upon my four-year-old hiding behind the bathroom door, happily gobbling half a tube of Tom’s toothpaste because it “tastes like strawberries, Mom!” But maybe it’s genetic, because I remember downing WAY more than a pea-sized amount of Crest toothpaste as a kid because they put sparkles in it, dammit! How cool is THAT?!
The good news is that the report concludes that the majority of children are indeed brushing their teeth at least once a day (obviously one of my kids, who shall remain nameless, was not included in this study. You know who you are, “he whose breath is like death”!).
Our kids are off to a decent start with basic dental hygiene, and need just need a little parental supervision to get the correct toothpaste amount. And to use water. And to put the brush in the mouth, on the teeth…
The official report can be found here on the CDC’s website.
And as a parent, the struggle is REAL. I’ve nagged, pleaded, threatened and yelled to make sure they brush their damn teeth twice a day.