Pre-schoolers should be using full-strength toothpaste, but less than a fifth actually do, new research says.
A study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal has found many Kiwi parents don't really know what kind of toothpaste they should be giving their kids.
It found that despite Ministry of Health advice that people of all ages should use "full-strength fluoride toothpaste" only about 19 percent of those under 5 years old were.
That compared to about 22 percent who were using toothpaste for babies and more than half who were being given toothpaste of children.
The researchers found parents were opting to go for age-based products -- containing significantly less or no fluoride -- because of lack of information.
They noted first children were less likely to be using adult toothpaste than their younger siblings, suggesting parents were being given the information over time.
"Part of the confusion on toothpaste choice could arise from manufacturers' instructions on toothpaste packaging being inconsistent with the Ministry of Health's recommendations," the authors said.
"Explicit information that would allow parents and caregivers to distinguish messaging from different sources, and to comply with the Ministry of Health's recommendations might be required."
Not surprisingly, the study also found those who visited dentists more often were more likely to use full toothpaste.
The study from the Health Promotion Agency in Wellington looked at questionnaire responses from 1056 patients around New Zealand.
The Ministry of Health's website explicitly advises toothpastes labelled as "child strength" should be avoided.