We’ve all seen toothpaste commercials where happy, smiling people squeeze a generous amount of toothpaste onto their brush, showing off a characteristic swirl of colorful paste or gel. Those commercials might even lead us to believe that the amount on the brush is the amount of paste needed to get your teeth as sparkly white as the actors in the commercial. But the fact is, those commercial representations aren’t exactly accurate. In fact, if you’ve been going by commercials to gauge how much paste to use, you’re probably using too much.
That’s why Malaysian dentist Dr. Gao Jye Teh set out to educate the world in a short TikTok video showing the correct amount of toothpaste for each age group. For babies, Dr. Gao Jye Teh suggests only using a tiny amount of toothpaste, equivalent to the amount of a grain of rice. This is because babies cannot reliably spit out their toothpaste, meaning they have a higher risk of swallowing fluoride, which can cause gastrointestinal issues. Another option is to use fluoride-free toothpaste for babies and toddlers, however, this does not offer as much protection to the teeth as brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, and is not the preferred method of brushing.
For adults, the amount we’ve been shown to use on TV is way too much. In fact, according to Dr. Gao Jye Teh’s video, all adults really need to use is a pea-sized dollop of toothpaste to get the teeth clean. Why so little? After all, isn’t it better? Not so, say experts. This is because the more paste we use, the sooner our teeth feel clean. While this doesn’t seem like such a bad thing, experts argue that if our teeth feel clean sooner, we are more likely to stop brushing early on, which could be shortchanging our teeth of adequate cleaning.
The other benefit of using less paste, of course, is the cost savings. When we use less paste, our tube of toothpaste lasts longer and goes further, saving us money- and who doesn’t love saving a little money here and there?
So the next time you reach for that toothpaste, remember: only a pea-sized amount will get your teeth sparkly white if you’re an adult, and for babies and toddlers, stick to about the size of a grain of rice!