Dental News

Adults should monitor kids' tooth-brushing

June 08, 2001

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Many young children who consider brushing their teeth a chore may try to avoid it at all costs. But few succeed, according to the results of a recent survey.

More than half of 1,000 adults surveyed said they monitor the brushing habits of the kids in the house.

The fact that many adults are monitoring children as they brush their teeth “reinforces an important health promotion tip,” according to Frederick More, a pediatric dentist at New York University College of Dentistry in New York City.

However, the 45% of respondents who said they do not keep watch while kids brush used other techniques to encourage dental hygiene–including bribery and threats of taking away their children’s TV privileges. Some even said that they just ignored their children and hoped that they would take up the habit on their own.

“People who don’t supervise should consider supervising,” Moore told Reuters Health. Watching how kids brush is important, he said, because the typical child’s “brushing patterns don’t encourage complete plaque removal.”

Also, More pointed out, unsupervised children may be more likely to swallow greater amounts of fluoridated toothpaste. “The optimum amount of fluoride [for children] is very small,” he said.

Too much fluoride may not put a child at risk for major health problems, Moore noted, but it can lead to unsightly tooth discoloration.

The survey, conducted in April, was commissioned by Munchkin Toys, Inc.