Teeth First! Teeth First!

How Much Toothpaste Should I Put on my Child's Toothbrush?

When it comes to toothpaste, if some is good, more must be better, right? Actually, no!

Using the correct amount of fluoride toothpaste on a child's toothbrush is really important. Little mouths cannot handle all the bubbles and foam that a large amount of toothpaste can create. Small children could swallow or choke on the toothpaste. Swallowing too much toothpaste is not healthy. In order to make sure your child is using the correct amount of fluoride toothpaste, we have created a guide to help you decide how much to use for your child's age.

When should I start using fluoride toothpaste with my child?

The sooner the better! Fluoride in toothpaste helps keep your child’s teeth healthy and strong.

Starting at birth, clean your baby's gums with a soft infant toothbrush or a clean, damp washcloth. 

As soon as teeth come up, start brushing them two times a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride (it will say it on the box if it has fluoride in it). 

Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and choose one that is the right size for your baby’s age.  The boxes toothbrushes come in will tell you what size your child needs by age.

How much toothpaste should I use?

If your child is under 2 years old, toothpaste on their toothbrush should be the size of a grain of rice. 

For children between the ages of 2 and 5 years old, use a pea-sized amount of paste. Your child is still not old enough to brush alone, so you will need to help them brush.

Here’s an example of a rice sized amount of toothpaste, 
versus a pea sized amount of toothpaste.
Photo credit: Bina Katechia, BDS, MSc 

Be sure your child spits out all of the paste and does not swallow it. Swallowing fluoride toothpaste can lead to problems. And it’s best if your child doesn’t rinse after brushing. That way, the fluoride in the toothpaste will stay on their teeth and help keep them strong!

How long should we brush for?

Remember that children are not able to brush their teeth and do a good job until they are around 7 or older. Toothbrushing requires patience and manual dexterity – a good general rule to follow is that a child is old enough to brush their own teeth by themselves when they are able to tie their own shoes. 

Allow your child to practice brushing on his or her own, but make sure you go in and brush their teeth too, to make sure they did a thorough job. Toothbrushing should take two minutes, two times per day, for children of all ages.  For fun 2-minute videos that you and your children can play to pass the time, check out http://2min2x.org/

TeethFirst! Creating healthy smiles for a lifetime.