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The CDC Says Your Kids Are Probably Brushing Their Teeth Wrong

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In news that surprises no parent anywhere, the CDC says in a new report that most kids aren’t brushing their teeth as well as they could be.

I mean, if your child under 6 can’t be trusted to not toss food on the floor or use the bathroom without needing a butt inspection after they’ve “wiped,” then it makes sense that they’re probably also not terribly attuned to doing a thorough job of brushing their teeth – though my two year old definitely does a thorough job of sucking all of his toothpaste off the brush.

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Along those lines, the CDC also reminds parents that since flouride is one of the “main factors responsible for the decline in prevalence and severity of dental caries and cavities in the United States,” you want to make sure your child has access to optimally fluoridated water, and that your child over the age of two is brushing twice daily with a flouride toothpaste.

That said, you’ll also want to make sure they’re not eating the stuff like candy, because too much flouride is responsible for negative side effects like “visibly detectable changes in enamel structure, such as discoloration.”

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Which is perhaps why the main focus of the report is that kids are, in general, using too much toothpaste – nearly 40% of kids between the ages of 3 and 6 are using too much, according to a survey of more than 5,000 children.

Kids between 3 and 6 only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste to get the job done, and kids younger than that only need a smear the size of a grain of rice.

There’s no age that’s too young to start a brushing routine, either, according to the CDC and dentists everywhere.

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“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 age 1 year.”

Which means as soon as your little one’s first tooth pokes out of his or her gums, you can feel free to poke a toothbrush in there to clean it up – not only can you, but you definitely should!