How Much Toothpaste Should You Really Use?
Is More Toothpaste Better?
We have all seen the toothpaste commercials that make a loop de doo of toothpaste on the bristles. Is this excessive? Absolutely! There are three basic benefits of toothpaste:
The first – Flavor – makes brushing more fun. But too much flavor, and too much toothpaste and you will get undesirable reactions like gagging, choking and the desire to spit it all out!
The second – Medicaments – like fluoride, desensitizers, ingredients like surfactants that help clean your teeth and gums better. Like so many things, all are good in moderation. Too much and you turn a good thing into a bad thing. Fluoride is proven to help make the surface of teeth more resistant to decay but the amount needed is very small. Too much can be harmful. Have you ever added way too much soap to the water for washing dishes or clothes and spent as much time getting rid of the excess as you did with the actual cleaning? Too much toothpaste can be like that.
And finally – Grit – is useful to improve the cleaning ability of the toothpaste. Just a little bit and the correct consistency does the trick.
More is not always better!
All of these lead to the truth that more is not always better! If a very small amount is all that is needed, why do the photos show a big swirl of toothpaste. I think the answer may be twofold. First a big swirl of toothpaste shows off the manufacturer’s product better. Secondly, you use more each time, you go through the tube of toothpaste faster, and you need to buy more, more often! Not good for you, your pocketbook or, really, the planet. (Extra waste both in packaging and use of non-recyclable materials)
So, how much should you use? You may have heard ‘a pea-sized amount’ will do the trick. This amount is smaller than a marble (unless you have marbles smaller than I have seen! For adults and anyone able to spit well, this is just enough to gain the benefits without the negatives of using too much. Children or anyone who is not good at spitting out the excess should use even less. For young children and poor spitters and those who are very sensitive to flavors or foaming use just the amount to be able to see it on the bristles of the toothbrush.
You might ask then, “So what’s with the photos showing the excess of toothpaste?” Well, remember when we used to travel? I usually only travel with a carry-on bag, you know the kind where you can have a quart sized bag of small toiletries. On one trip I forgot to bring toothpaste. (Do dentist’s even do that?) I could only buy a regular sized tube that I wasn’t going to be able to take home with me. So my options were to toss the remainder or get creative!
In our office we try to answer all of our patient’s questions, big or small. It is important not to be misled by advertisers. So here we have poked a little fun at the excessive amounts of toothpaste that are used and presented some reasons why you might want to change your brushing habits if you are used to using a lot of toothpaste. Our Grand Junction, Colorado dental office tries to keep learning about your oral health and options as friendly, useful and fun as possible. We are currently accepting new patients into our practice.
Yours for better dental health,
Julie Gillis, DDS, AAACD
Restoring Teeth, Restoring Smiles