- You’re probably using using too much toothpaste when you brush your teeth, according to one dentist’s viral TikTok.
- People over age 3 only need a pea-sized amount for maximum effectiveness—not a heaping swoop.
- You also shouldn’t rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash right after brushing.
Ever feel like you’re constantly going through tubes of toothpaste? You might be using too much. According to TikTok’s viral Gao Jye Teh, B.D.S., a dentist based in the U.K., people over age 3 only need a pea-sized amount for maximum effectiveness—not a heaping swoop like ads typically show.
The young dentist shared a TikTok informing the public of the common misconception that garnered six million views. He also shared it to Instagram, writing: “Commercials are lying to you! You don’t need to use that much toothpaste. ?” Not only is it wasteful, it doesn’t make your teeth any cleaner.
Dr. Gao says the danger in using excess toothpaste, especially for children, lies in the risk of fluorosis—a cosmetic condition that changes the appearance of tooth enamel when too much fluoride (the cavity-preventing ingredient in toothpaste) is ingested. Fluorosis can present itself as mild discoloration, staining, and even obvious pitting. “Although dental fluorosis can be cosmetically treated, the damage done to the enamel is permanent,” Dr. Gao said in a separate video.
A 2013 to 2016 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms Dr. Gao’s warning, citing that children under the age of 3 should only use “a smear” of fluoride paste “the size of a rice grain.”
In a following TikTok, Dr. Gao enlightened the internet with another common dental hygiene mistake. According to him, you shouldn’t rinse your mouth after brushing—not with water or mouthwash. “Flouride in your toothpaste takes time to work,” he wrote. “So spit, don’t rinse!” The comments flooded with concerned brushers. “So I haven’t really brushed my teeth for 14 years?” one person wrote. “I’ve done it all wrong my entire life,” another added.
Dr. Gao recommends waiting at least 20 or 30 minutes after brushing before having a drink of water or swishing mouthwash. Optimally, he suggests using a fluoride rinse later in the day. That way, you’ll get the full benefits of brushing and rinsing.
Some folks who are used to rinsing right away say they’re struggling to make the change. “Ideally, you should use [toothpaste and mouthwash] at separate times,” Dr. Gao replied to one comment. “If you really can’t stand not rinsing, using mouthwash after brushing is better than using water.”
The more you know, right?
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