Getting your kid to brush their is like ... well, it's like pulling teeth! Isn't it funny how they're completely surprised every single morning and night when you tell them it's time to brush their teeth? Like they haven't caught onto the fact that this is something they have to do twice a day, everyday. You sort of expect that you have to help your toddlers with the teeth brushing routine. After all, they have the attention span and the coordination of a drunk gnat.
But once your kids hit the age where they can do it themselves, that's the sweet spot. They can apply toothpaste to their toothbrush, brush semi-well, and rinse their mouths (we won't talk about the toothpaste in the sink). But we all may be missing a key element of successful tooth-brushing, and it could cause some long-term problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that most kids are using way too much toothpaste. You wouldn't think that too much of a cleaning agent would be a bad thing, but when it comes to toothpaste, less is definitely more.
The American Dental Association (ADA), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), and the CDC recommend that children use no more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on their toothbrush. But most kids are using a lot more. According to a report from the CDC, about 40% of kids ages three to six are loading half to a full head of toothpaste onto their toothbrush. But what's wrong with that? Well, the fluoride in toothpaste is beneficial (it helps prevent cavities and strengthen teeth, for example) but it can also cause some damage. When younger children ingest too much fluoride, it can cause discoloration and pitting in permanent teeth.
So make sure your kiddos are using just a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on their toothbrushes. Also, make sure they're brushing twice a day, everyday, with a toothpaste that contains fluoride. The CDC also found that about 80% of kids start brushing too late - brushing should start as soon as the first tooth erupts. So even though your kids might be old to brush their own teeth, it looks like you'll still have to do quality control for the near future.