How Much Toothpaste Should You Use?

Although you’ve been brushing your teeth for years, you may still wonder how much toothpaste to put on your toothbrush. Dentists recommend using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste for adults and kids ages 3 and up. For younger children, a rice-sized smear of toothpaste should be used from when the first tooth erupts until age 3 years. Here’s the full advice.


How Much Toothpaste Should You Put on Your Toothbrush ?

How much toothpaste you should put on your toothbrush can vary based on the type of toothpaste you use, your age, whether you rinse after brushing, and your personal preferences.

It doesn’t matter whether you use a manual toothbrush or one with a spinning head or sonic vibrations, the size of the bristles or the type of toothbrush doesn’t determine how much toothpaste you should use. However, a fluoride toothpaste vs. a non-fluoride toothpaste is a factor in the amount of toothpaste you need and how you brush. Fluoride needs time to penetrate your teeth to provide its healthy benefits, but swallowing too much fluoride can be an issue for young children.

In general, adults need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, while children ages 3 and under need less. The important part is that you brush your teeth twice daily and follow healthy oral hygiene habits. The right amount of toothpaste and using one that feels and tastes good will help make brushing your teeth more enjoyable and effective.


How Much Toothpaste to Use for an Adult

If you cover their toothbrush bristles from end to end with a ribbon of toothpaste, you’re not alone. Yet most dentists recommend a pea-sized amount every time you brush, whether you use a toothpaste with fluoride or without. In case you’re not friendly with the round green vegetable, a pea is about the same size as a kernel of corn or a chocolate chip.

However, everyone has a personal preference for the amount of moisture, foam, and taste in their toothbrushing experience. All of these factors are affected by how much toothpaste you put on your toothbrush. Use around a pea-sized amount, but don’t get too hung up on how much toothpaste you’re “supposed” to use.

If you prefer the taste and feel of more toothpaste when you brush, go right ahead – there isn’t a toothbrushing police officer monitoring your use. Some people also find that using a bit more toothpaste helps them brush longer as it will last the full two minutes of brushing recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA).

Here’s another tip dentists recommend if you’re a fluoride toothpaste user: don’t rinse with water or mouthwash after brushing. You want the toothpaste to stay on your teeth to help the fluoride penetrate your teeth and help strengthen them. Try to wait at least 30 minutes after brushing before you have a drink to avoid rinsing all the toothpaste away.


How Much Toothpaste to Use for a Child

How much toothpaste to use for a child

While adults shoud use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, it doesn’t hurt to use more. Children ages 3 and under should use even less, and there is a good reason not to use too much fluoride toothpaste.

Young kids have a harder time controlling their swallowing reflex and can swallow toothpaste by accident. While nothing terrible happens if you swallow toothpaste, if kids ingest too much fluoride toothpaste over time, they can develop stains on their teeth or damage the enamel. Although it’s treatable, using the right amount of toothpaste and not swallowing it will keep your kids from developing this condition, known as fluorosis.

In a four-year study, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than 80% of families used too much toothpaste for children ages 1-6 years. Most people used a “full-load” of toothpaste that covers the entire toothbrush head, a half-load, or a pea-sized amount when helping their children brush. All of these are too much fluoride toothpaste for kids age 6 and under.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), and the ADA all recommend introducing fluoride toothpaste for children from the time their first tooth erupts and to use a just a smear of toothpaste on the brush – an amount about the size of a grain of rice until they are age 3. After that time, kids can begin to move up to the recommended pea-sized amount of toothpaste for older children and adults. Remember that the ADA and AAP advise that parents monitor children’s toothbrushing until at least age 8.

Fluoride toothpaste helps protect your kids’ teeth and prevent cavities, but using the right amount of toothpaste is an important part of healthy toothbrushing habits.


Choose the Right Toothpaste for You and Your Family

Family brushing their teeth together

It’s up to you whether you prefer a toothpaste with our without fluoride, and whether you enjoy a whitening formula, one with charcoal, or to help with tooth sensitivity. Taste and the foaming feel are other factors. Try one of these ARM & HAMMER™ toothpastes to find the one that benefits you most.


No matter which toothpaste you choose, the recommended amount to use is the same: at least a pea-sized portion for adults and a smaller amount for kids 3 and under, about the size of a grain of rice. If you have any questions about which toothpaste is best for you or how much to use, check with your dentist for more information.

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