How do you know if you are using too much toothpaste? If your body is covered in toothpaste head-to-toe, you are probably using too much toothpaste. You also may have horrible aim. However, even if you are keeping the toothpaste confined to your mouth, you still may be using too much toothpaste.
Using too much toothpaste could be a problem, especially if you are less than 6 years old. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that anyone less 2 years old not use fluoride toothpaste. If you’re between 2 and 3 years old, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), and American Dental Association (ADA) recommendation is brushing twice a day, using a rice grain-sized amount of toothpaste each time. If you are between 3 and 6 years old, you should continue to brush your teeth twice daily with no more than a pea-sized (that’s “pea” with an “a”) amount of toothpaste, which is approximately 0.25 g, on each occasion.
Why the limitations? Although fluoride can help prevent tooth decay, swallowing too much while your teeth are still forming can mess up the enamel on your teeth. This condition, deemed dental fluorosis, can result in white spots or lines. In case you are wondering, such a permanent bedazzled look is not a great one for you teeth. In more severe cases, pits can develop on your teeth.
The pea-sized recommendation only goes to age 6 because by then presumably you have enough control to not regularly swallow your toothpaste while brushing. Presumably. By the time you reach 8 years old, your teeth have probably already developed to the point where dental fluorisis is no longer a real concern. This doesn’t necessarily mean that when you get beyond 8 years old that you should start stuffing your mouth with toothpaste. A pea-sized amount should suffice for teens and adults as well. If you are foaming at the mouth while brushing, you are most likely either a werewolf or using too much toothpaste.
A study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) showed that a significant percentage of kids may not be following these recommendations. For the study, a team from the CDC (Gina Thornton-Evans, DDS, Michele L. Junger, DDS, Mei Lin, MD, Liang Wei, MS, Lorena Espinoza, DDS) and the D.B. Consulting Group, Inc. (Eugenio Beltran-Aguilar, DMD, DrPH) analyzed data on 5,157 children and adolescents who were 3 to 15 years old and whose parents or caregivers completed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2013 to 2016. The NHANES included questions on the children’s and adolescents’ toothbrushing habits. Or should it be teethbrushing habits?
The study found that when it came to following the CDC’s toothbrushing recommendations, many of the kids were not all right. Some kids jumped the gums, with 8.9% of white kids, 10.8% of black kids, and 7.7% of Mexican-American kids beginning to use toothpaste before reaching one year in age. Others started late, with 21.4% of white kids, 17.3% of black kids, and 31.2% of Mexican-American kids brushing off using toothpaste until after reaching 3 years of age. A size-able percentage of those between 3 and 6 years old were using too much toothpaste with a reported 12.4% using a smear, 49.2% a pea-sized amount, 20.6% a half load, and 17.8% a full load on their brushes each time. That’s over 38% using too mucha, much, mucha toothpaste while going brusha, brusha, brusha.
So add toothpaste to the growing list of things that many Americans are using in excess. Don’t follow those commercials that show a full load of toothpaste on a toothbrush. Instead when you go to the bathroom, beside thinking pee, you may want to think pea. Just make sure you don’t mix up the two.