General Dentistry |2 min read

How Much Toothpaste is Too Much for My Child?

Mom and little daughter brushing their teeth while they look in a mirror.

Helping your child to establish a good oral care routine is vital.

A recent report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) said that some parents might not be giving their children the correct instructions when it comes to tooth brushing.

What do you need to know to make sure your child is doing what is necessary to protect their oral health?

Here are some dentist-approved guidelines to follow.

How much toothpaste is the right amount for my child?

A CDC study has found “nearly 40 percent of children ages 3 to 6 used more toothpaste than recommended by dental professionals.”

The article notes that both the American Dental Association (ADA) and CDC suggest parents of children in that age range apply no more than a pea-size amount of toothpaste on their brush.

For children under three, the ADA recommends parents use only a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste – roughly the size of a grain of rice.

Fluoride can be upsetting to children’s little tummies, so it’s important to train your children not to swallow their toothpaste. There are a lot of great tasting kinds of toothpaste available today that are good for encouraging your children to brush, but they can also be tempting to little ones to swallow!

Also, for youngsters with developing teeth, ingesting too much fluoride toothpaste may cause dental fluorosis, which “does not affect overall dental health, but it can lead to white lines or streaks on the teeth,” the American Dental Association said.

Start training them early

For children under three, the ADA recommends parents brush their children’s teeth twice a day as soon as they erupt with just a very small dab of fluoride toothpaste.

Your child will need help with learning proper brushing techniques until about the age of 7 or 8. At that age, they begin to develop fine motor skills and can usually brush their teeth effectively on their own.

Checking in on their toothbrushing technique from time to time is a good idea to make sure they are continuing to follow good toothbrushing habits.

Some helpful tools for parents

Still not sure exactly how much toothpaste to put on your kid’s toothbrush? The ADA’s consumer website,, shows an illustration of the recommended amount of fluoride toothpaste to use when brushing your children’s teeth and also features A Mom’s Guide to Fluoride.

Do you have other questions about your children’s oral health, such as “how do I know if my child has a cavity?” Or “should my child get sealants?” You can find the answers to these questions and more on our website.

Dr. Bradley Olson wants you and your children to be able to enjoy a lifetime of healthy and beautiful smiles. We would be happy to answer any of your dentistry questions or to set up a dental appointment for a time convenient for you.

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