A toothbrush with toothpaste
Representational image Getty Images/Saul Loeb/AFP

You can’t have too much of a good thing and in the case of your children’s toothpaste use, this is especially true. New research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that despite warnings on the inadvertent consumption of too much fluoride, many kids are still using more toothpaste than they should every time they brush.

The CDC report said that some 38 percent of kids aged 3 to 6 years old go over the recommended amount of toothpaste for their age, which should be just 0.25 grams or pea-sized. Those who use the correct amount account for 49.2 percent of the participants, which is a good sign, though 12.4 percent use too little. Of those who used too much toothpaste, 17.8 percent go the full load, or the entire space of the toothbrush, and 20.6 percent go the half load.

While this data seems like a minor issue, the proponents of the study warned that because brushing one’s teeth is a regular occurrence, with some doing it more than three times a day, the accumulation of fluoride can reach risky levels. Symptoms of too much fluoride can also manifest in pitting and enamel discoloration. Plus, fluoride is never meant to be swallowed.

This information is important because while the recommended age for children to begin brushing is 3 years old, some households start brushing babies’ teeth as early as six months or when the first tooth comes out. Granted, parents use only water to brush, it is still crucial to note that children under the age of 3 should have only a rice-grain size toothpaste on their brushes.

Some parents might also argue that it could depend on the type of toothpaste. Stanford Children’s Health’s website noted that regardless of the brand, as long as the toothpaste contains fluoride, it should be enough to support regular dental health practices. What is truly important is the amount.