The Irish Expert Body on Fluorides and Health (IEBFH) last year raised concerns about “flavoured family toothpaste” appealing to children.
“It was noted that a new flavoured family toothpaste is available on the Irish market,” according to the minutes for the 12 May 2020 meeting of the IEBFH, which were seen by this newspaper.
“It was agreed to contact the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) about the expert body’s concerns that it might be appealing to children, resulting in inappropriate use such as eating/swallowing the toothpaste.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health did not provide the name of
the toothpaste product that was subject to concern.
The spokesperson told the Medical Independent that the issue was raised in line with the expert body’s terms of reference and that its work “is informed by robust evidence-based research”.
“The expert body notes that the HPRA has informed the expert body that it has conducted a review of the compliance of this product with Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 based on the product labelling (carton only) available in the cosmetic products notification portal and have not identified any non-compliances.”
The Department spokesperson pointed to a recommendation from the 2002 report Forum on Fluoridation, which states parents should supervise children aged two to seven when brushing their teeth and ensure that only a small, pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste is used and swallowing is avoided.
“The national oral health policy Smile agus Sláinte states that, although it is recommended not to use fluoride toothpaste for under twos, results from the recent Fluoride And Caring For Children’s Teeth (FACCT) study indicated that 80 per cent of parents of five-year-olds had commenced tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste before the age of two,” the spokesperson said.
“Regarding reference to flavoured (fruit) family toothpaste the expert body acknowledge that although these products are typically for use by adults, these appealing flavours may indeed encourage young children to brush their teeth, but unfortunately it might also encourage them to lick or swallow the toothpaste.
“This can pose a risk of increased fluoride intake because of swallowing when compared with a regular flavoured toothpaste.”