February is Children’s Dental Health Month, and a Knoxville dentist is telling parents to be careful how much toothpaste they give their children because using too much can be almost as harmful to their teeth as not using any.

Dr. Lisa Holst says a report from the Centers for Disease Control warns overuse of toothpaste can cause discoloration on a child’s teeth; it can lead to white spots on teeth, known as fluoritosis.

Dr. Holst tells KNIA/KRLS News it’s better to let kids use small portions on their toothbrush.

“If the children are under the age of three, we shouldn’t use very much toothpaste at all on their toothbrush; in fact we used to say none, but now we say maybe a smear as small as a grain of rice on their toothbrush,” Dr. Holst says. “And those children ages three to six can have a pea size (portion).”

Most parents start taking their children to the dentist around the age of three, but Dr. Holst suggests they actually start around the age of one; she says keeping their baby teeth healthy is just as important as the adult teeth they’ll have later, and it helps to reinforce good dental habits as they grow up.