Fluoride Action Network


The overconsumption of toothpaste has negative consequences, particularly for children. This study’s objectives were to describe misleading marketing strategies used in selling children’s fluoridated toothpaste and identify warning label characteristics. Two researchers independently coded the packaging from 26 over-the-counter toothpastes that are specifically marketed for children. Aggressive marketing strategies targeting children were identified: every toothpaste in this sample displayed at least 1 children’s animated character, 50% had at least 1 picture of a food item, 92.3% stated they were flavored and 26.9% depicted a full swirl of toothpaste, directly contradicting dentist recommendations for young children. Further, on most toothpaste tubes, warnings regarding fluoride overconsumption for young children were only listed on the back and in very small font. Misleading marketing strategies are regularly used in selling children’s toothpaste as if it is a food product, while warnings regarding overconsumption among youth are minimized. Dental hygienists are in an important position to help parents of young children implement safe oral care practices.