20 Feb Are You Using Too Much Toothpaste?
The month of February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Dedicated dental professionals and healthcare providers come together to educate children and their parents on the role of good oral hygiene for long-term health. Coincidentally this month the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released findings that young children are using too much toothpaste. In fact, both children and adults are often applying significantly more toothpaste than needed. Are you using too much toothpaste?
Why You Need Toothpaste
Toothpaste is an integral part of any dental care routine. At its core, toothpaste is a mild abrasive that removes plaque-causing bacteria while gently polishing teeth. With over 700 species of bacteria living in our mouth, poor dental hygiene may result in cavities, tooth loss, and other periodontal diseases. As a systemic disease, periodontal disease has been linked to glycemic control in persons with diabetes and may also be a contributory factor in certain cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.
The active ingredient in toothpaste, fluoride, helps fight cavities that lead to other mouth and systemic issues, by re-mineralizing teeth and strengthening enamel to fight bacteria. Following the introduction of stannous fluoride in the 1950sis the decline of cavities in children decreased from 50% to 25%. The question, therefore, is not “should I use toothpaste” but rather “how much should I use?”
What Amount is the Right Amount
The shape and size of a toothbrush head are designed to effectively reach all areas of teeth including in-between teeth, around the gums, back molars, and even the tongue. The length and width of bristle styles available vary according to age, mouth-size, and sensitivity of teeth. Applying toothpaste to cover the entire head of the brush is not only unnecessary, but it is also not recommended.
In its survey, the CDC found that 60% of children and teens ages 3 – 15 filled their toothbrush with too much product. “Brushing with too much toothpaste can damage enamel because children could swallow too much fluoride while their teeth are developing”, the CDC says. “That can cause dental fluorosis, white marks, and discoloration of teeth.”
For children, the proper amount of toothpaste should be no more than the size of a grain of rice. In adults, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste will do the trick. While toothpaste plays an important role, the toothbrush is doing most of the work to remove the bacteria that builds on enamel. Adults with advanced tooth discoloration may think more toothpaste is the answer. When your teeth have lost their pearly shine, teeth whitening will provide better results. Remember with toothpaste less is better.
The internet is loaded with articles from reputable as well as unsubstantiated websites. When we hear a negative report about a subject, such as fluoride, we may choose to abruptly discontinue use. It’s important to note the CDC acknowledges the role of fluoride in dental care. The recommendation is not to stop use but to use the right amount.
Disseminate fact from opinion. Read articles published by reputable resources. When in doubt give us a call. Your dental health is important to us.
Dr. Dragana Angelova
Imperial Dental Center
“We love to see you smile”