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Kids May Be Using Way Too Much Toothpaste, CDC Says

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Tubes of toothpaste fill the shelves at a grocery store in New Rochelle, New York last month. Don Emmert—AFP/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning for parents: Your Children are using too much toothpaste when they brush their teeth.

The CDC says that 40% of children between the ages of 3-6 are using more toothpaste than recommended by dentists. Both the CDC and the American Dental Association recommend children that age only use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, and kids under three should only use “a smear,” says the CDC.

The findings are based on a self-reporting from parents of 5,157 children between the ages of 3-15 published last week. The survey did not take into account whether the children were using fluoride or non-fluoride toothpaste.

While the amount of toothpaste your kids use might not seem like a big deal, it can actually have negative effects on their health. Using too much toothpaste can damage enamel, for example. If kids swallow too much fluoride as their teeth are developing, they can develop dental fluorosis, essentially causing white marks and discoloration on their teeth.

The CDC doesn’t recommend children start using toothpaste until the age of two. Before then, it is recommended to brush teeth twice daily as soon as they start to grow in, but using only water. Around 80% of the children included in the survey began brushing later than the CDC recommends.