Specifically, a new analysis of the dental hygiene habits of children and adolescents in the United States reveals that nearly 40 percent of young American kids are using too much toothpaste when they brush their teeth. This could lead to streaks on the teeth when they age.
Fluoride is a naturally occurring chemical found in food, drinking water, and toothpaste that helps to reduce the incidence of tooth decay.
For the study, researchers from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention included parents of more than 5,000 kids ages three to 15.
"The findings suggest that children and adolescents are engaging in appropriate daily preventive dental health practices", the authors write, "however, implementation of recommendations is not optimal".
Amongst all the children aged three to six years old, about half (49.2 percent) used the correct, pea-sized amount.
Children under three should be using even less toothpaste, according to the guidelines.
The recommended toothpaste amount for youngsters at three to six years of age is of pea-estimate, and for those under three about a rice grain, as per the report.
While the dental association and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry offer conflicting advice on when exactly to begin brushing your child's teeth with fluoride toothpaste, it is most important to ensure that you are using the right quantity so that your child won't swallow too much, according to Dr. Shenkin.
The CDC also found that almost 80 percent of 3 to 15-year-olds started brushing their teeth later than advised, which is when the first tooth grows out.
Careful supervision of fluoride intake improves the preventive benefit of fluoride, while reducing the chance that young children might ingest too much fluoride during critical times of enamel formation of the secondary teeth. Plus, fluoride is never meant to be swallowed.
Of course, as parents of young children would readily understand, kids don't always do what you want them to - and tooth brushing is no exception. But just over 20 percent of parents or caregivers in the study reported that their child started brushing before age 1.