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How Much Toothpaste Should Kids Brush With?

We’re gonna go out on a limb here and assume you’re a conscientious parent who’s super interested in the wellbeing of your kiddo. As a result, your daily child rearing tasks include making sure they have only the most educational of toys, that they’re eating the good stuff from the four basic food groups, and yes, that they’re using the proper amount of toothpaste when brushing (preferably after each meal and before bedtime). So let’s get you up to speed on how much toothpaste your little rockstar ought to be using, which kind of paste is best for them, and why.

Too Much Tube

In early 2019, a study came out that understandably left some parents feeling concerned: the CDC found that almost 40% of kids 3-6 years of age used more toothpaste than was recommended by dentists. When used properly, toothpaste is an integral part of maintaining good oral health. But as we all know, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing – and in this respect, toothpaste is no exception. Using excessive amounts of paste can have particularly undesirable effects for kids – especially if the paste contains fluoride. This is because if too much fluoride toothpaste is swallowed while their teeth are still developing under their gums, they may develop dental fluorosis. While it doesn’t have an effect on tooth function, dental fluorosis does create light white lines or streaks that become visible when growing teeth break through the gum layer. Not ideal.

How Much Toothpaste to Use

To avoid dental fluorosis and other issues (including a sink filled with un-brushed paste), it’s best to keep a close eye on your child during brush time, and be the one to dispense the paste until they’re at least 6. Sure, it can get tedious – but think of it as quality time that you’ll be nostalgic about someday when they’ve got a million-dollar smile and 10 Pulitzers.

For kids under the age of 3, stick to using a portion of toothpaste no bigger than a grain of rice – really just a smear. We know it’s not much, but it’s all they need for now. Once they reach 3 years of age, it’s generally time to increase paste amount to a pea-sized dollop.

Choosing Friendly

Here at hello, it’s our chief priority to help your little ones rush to brush™ without the fuss, no matter if they’re brushing fluoride or fluoride free.

While applying the proper amount of toothpaste to your kid’s brush is important, it’s only half the battle. Be sure to also educate them on the need to spit out the toothpaste after brushing and not swallow any. If you’re a fluoride household and your toddler has a tendency to swallow paste and you want to ensure no complications arise from fluoride consumption, your best bet may be to choose a fluoride-free toothpaste until they’re a bit better at the whole swish and spit thing. If you’re a fluoride free household, we’ve created a fluoride free kids paste that’s effective for whitening, brightening, and removing plaque. Whatever you choose for your little ones to brush with, we hope you have years of happy brushing together.

Kid's Brushing

about the author

Lawrence Fung is a dentist, entrepreneur, and one of our expert contributors here on the hello blog. After earning his DDS at the University of Southern California’s School of Dentistry, Lawrence served as a General Dentist in the US Navy for four years. Since then, he’s mixed his dental credentials with his love for startups by founding SiliconBeach.Dental, a new breed of dental clinic in LA that leverages tech to make high-quality care more accessible and friendlier than ever before. When he’s not challenging the dental status quo, Lawrence reps his beloved Trojans, crushes hotdog-eating contests, and loves yodeling.

Learn more about our editorial policy here.

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