Brushing your teeth may be a basic part of your everyday routine, but, as it turns out, there are a lot of different ways you could be doing it wrong.
TikTok's latest viral sensation, Dr. Gao Jye Teh, a Malaysian dentist, is here to fix that. He recently racked up 7.5 million views on a video demonstrating how much toothpaste you should actually be using each time you brush. Spoiler alert: it's way less than you'd expect.
First, he squeezes a generous swipe onto his lime green toothbrush, illustrating the typical visual in toothpaste commercials. The text reads, "The amount of toothpaste used in commercials is WAY TOO MUCH." Swiveling around in his chair, he then shows that a light smear is all you need for babies and toddlers under the age of three. However, even for adults, the correct amount is not much more than that. According to Dr. Gao, for anyone above the age of 3, a pea-size squirt of toothpaste is all you need.
While this news might come as a surprise to some, you may want to consider the advice in the video. Dr. David C. Gordon, DDS, of Gordon Center For General and Advanced Dentistry in Gaithersburg, MD, warns that there are more risks to using too much toothpaste than too little. "If too much toothpaste is being ingested vs. being spit out, it can be bad for your health," he says.
The fluoride in toothpaste helps protect teeth by remineralizing enamel and preventing decay. However, Gordon says that too much fluoride in the body, which could be caused by accidentally swallowing toothpaste, can lead to kidney and gastrointestinal issues. Children under the age of 3 "aren't considered reliable spitters after they brush their teeth and could get too much systemic fluoride," which is why Dr. Gordon recommends a smear no larger than a grain of rice.
Plus, using too much toothpaste can actually lead to a less-thorough clean. "Too much toothpaste can also cause your mouth to feel clean before it really is, causing you to not brush everywhere," Gordon explains. With too little toothpaste, your main risks are weaker enamel and smelly breath.
Stick to the pea-size method, and you should be in the clear.