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How Much Toothpaste Should I Use to Brush My Child’s Teeth?

By Dr. Scott Frey

Child Brushing TeethWe have talked before about how the foundations of great oral health often start even before the first tooth has appeared in the mouth. Moms can help prevent the vertical transimission of oral bacteria by using xylitol.

However, when those first teeth do come in, it is very important that they get clean. All the same rules of brushing apply when cleaning your child’s teeth only you’ll use smaller quantities of toothpaste because their ability to spit effectively doesn’t really develop until about the age of 5.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has published some very helpful guidelines on the amount of toothpaste you should use with children:

  • Children under the age of 2 - Use a ‘smear’ of fluoridated toothpaste (see diagram)
  • Children aged 2 to 5 years old - Use a ‘pea-sized’ amount of toothpaste (see diagram)

Amount of Toothpaste

Any parent who has tried brushing their child's teeth knows how difficult it can be get the toothbrush bristles where they need to be on an unwilling subject. Something that I have found to make things easier is to use an inexpensive powered toothbrush, like a Spinbrush, to do the brushing. 

Keep in mind that even when your children begin to brush on their own, you should still supervise their brushing to make sure they are establishing the right habits.

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