How Much Toothpaste Should You  Use? (Decoding Pea-Size)

How Much Toothpaste Should You Use? (Decoding Pea-Size)

Applying toothpaste to a toothbrush seems like a trivial and inconsequential part of our daily routines. 

However, if you aren’t using the right amount of toothpaste, you could be potentially harming your teeth and laying the foundations for a host of dental problems further down the line!

To help you take your dental hygiene routine to the next level and ensure you are looking after your teeth properly, we have researched for you to figure out just how much toothpaste you should use when brushing your teeth. 

We will cover:

  • The right quantity of toothpaste 
  • Why using the right amount of toothpaste matters
  • Tips for using the right amount of toothpaste.

Let’s get into it!

The Right Quantity Of Toothpaste

The advice we all seem to have been given is that a simple “pea-sized” amount of toothpaste will suffice no matter what. 

However, what does this really mean?

Recent studies have shown that many people, especially parents of young children, are severely overestimating the amount of toothpaste needed!

Many people’s interpretation of “pea-sized” is extremely inaccurate and results in them applying too much toothpaste.

This can be detrimental to the health of your teeth as they become overexposed to the ingredients in the toothpaste. 

A “pea-sized” amount is the official recommendation for toothpaste use and simply means that the ball of toothpaste on your brush should be of a similar size to a pea. 

This is a lot smaller than many people think, so it is important you pay close attention when applying your toothpaste. 

Dental experts have concluded that this is the ideal amount to allow for proper cleaning and brushing without overexposing teeth to fluoride. This equates to around 0.25 grams (although there is no need to weigh out your toothpaste!) 

Is Pea-Sized for Everyone?

However, this pea-sized recommendation is not a one-size-fits-all-all model. 

There are several factors that mean you may need more or less toothpaste in order to adequately look after your teeth. 

One of the biggest factors is age. The American Dental Association (ADA) has raised concerns that parents are applying the “pea-sized” guideline to their young children, which is leading to the children being exposed to and ingesting too much toothpaste. 

They recognized that this is because the “pea-sized” guideline seemingly applies to everyone, and there has not been any further information given as to whether this is a one-size-fits-all model! 

However, the right amount of toothpaste for a young child is not a “pea-sized” amount. 

Instead, the ADA has recommended that from the eruption of their first tooth to when they reach their third birthday, children should only use a smear of toothpaste. From ages 3-6, they should then use a “pea-sized” amount. 

Additionally, the type of toothpaste you use may also affect your “pea-sized” dosage. 

If you are using fluoride toothpaste, you need to be a lot more precise with your dosage as too much fluoride is potentially harmful to your teeth and your health. 

However, if you are using non-fluoride toothpaste, it is less risky (such as this one from Boka) as it does not contain any fluoride. 

This means you can be slightly more lenient here if you feel you need a larger dose of toothpaste. 

The suggested dosage for toothpaste is the same for all brands: for adults, it should be at least pea-sized, and for children under three, it should be approximately the size of a grain of rice.

Finally (and perhaps most importantly), the right amount of toothpaste for you is whatever your dentist or oral hygienist recommends!

Your dental health practitioner knows your unique dental needs and can advise you on the best toothpaste dosage to best look after your mouth. 

For example, if you have sensitive gums, tooth sensitivity, or a high risk of cavities, you may need to deviate from the recommended toothpaste dosage.

We highly recommend checking with your dentist on your next visit to clarify whether a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is right for you or if you need to increase/decrease your dosage. 

Why Using The Right Amount Of Toothpaste Matters 

You may be surprised to learn that using the right amount of toothpaste is extremely important! 

Using the right amount of toothpaste allows teeth to be properly cleaned. The correct dosage of toothpaste can also fight cavities, strengthen teeth, remove plaque buildup, and support healthy gums. 

Without toothpaste, your teeth would not be nearly as clean and would frequently be subject to cavities and infections. 

However, using too much or too little toothpaste can result in impaired dental hygiene and create problems for both you and your dentist. Here is a detailed breakdown of the effects of using the incorrect amount of toothpaste:

Too Much Toothpaste

Using too much toothpaste can have a myriad of consequences on your teeth. These include:

Damaging the Enamel

Toothpaste is abrasive, which usually isn’t an issue if it is used correctly. 

However, if too much toothpaste is used, the abrasive nature of the paste will wear away at the teeth and create holes in the protective enamel layer. 

This increases the likelihood of developing cavities, as well as increased tooth sensitivity. 


Fluorosis is a condition that involves white or brown spots appearing on the teeth. 

While adults are not at risk of fluorosis children are. If a child is using too much fluoride toothpaste, it increases their chances of fluorosis. 

While it is a cosmetic issue, it is still recommended that steps are taken to avoid developing the condition. 

Fluoride-containing toothpaste is considered safe for children; however, an excessive dose can cause fluorosis to develop which is why their toothpaste dosage needs to be precise

Gum Recession

The abrasive nature of toothpaste can also result in gum recession if incorrectly used. 

This means that the excessive toothpaste wears away at your gums, creating pain and sensitivity, and increasing the chances of other problems developing. 

Not Enough Toothpaste

In the same way that excessive toothpaste use can damage teeth, so can a dosage that is too small!

Here are some of the key issues that can develop when an insufficient amount of toothpaste is used:

Unclean Teeth

Toothpaste is the key cleaning agent when brushing your teeth. Its job is to kill and remove bacteria from your mouth that may have otherwise caused cavities. 

In order for toothpaste to effectively clean your mouth, there needs to be a sufficient dosage; otherwise, it is stretched too thin!

When you don’t use enough toothpaste, you run the risk of leaving behind bacteria and debris which can then start to rot and cause cavities. 

Additionally, your teeth will simply feel unclean, which is a feeling that no one enjoys. 

Plaque Buildup

Toothpaste is a surfactant and also works to eradicate plaque buildup in your mouth. 

While the manual action of brushing removes some plaque, it cannot be fully removed without the use of enough toothpaste. 

Using too little toothpaste will cause plaque to build up, which affects not only the health of your teeth but also their aesthetic appeal. 

Bad Breath

We all know and love the minty smell of toothpaste. 

However, if you don’t use enough, then you may find that the scent is rather ineffective!

If not enough toothpaste is used, bacteria and debris will be left to decay in the mouth. 

The decaying matter has a nasty smell that in turn creates bad breath that not even the spearmint scent of your toothpaste can mask!

If you don’t use enough toothpaste, you are at high risk for unpleasant breath, which is not fun for you or anyone around you. 

Tips For Using The Right Amount Of Toothpaste 

To help ensure that you’re 100% up to speed with your toothpaste usage, here are some of our top tips to ensure you get it right every time:

Use a Visual Guide

We are usually very tired when we brush our teeth in the morning or evening, and it is not uncommon to pay no attention to our toothpaste application. 

However, visually watching and checking how much toothpaste you're using is the number one way to ensure you are doing it correctly!

When applying toothpaste, make sure you are carefully watching and visually checking that the amount of toothpaste on your brush matches up with the approximate size of a pea. 

You will be surprised at how different the correct amount is when you are actually paying attention!

Using the Right Toothbrush + Toothpaste Combination

Many toothpaste brands also make toothbrushes to be used alongside each other.

These toothbrushes have been designed to adequately describe the right amount of toothpaste, as well as sometimes offer a visual guide to help users apply the right amount. 

We highly recommend ensuring you are using the correct toothbrush for your toothpaste. For example, if you are using the Boka n-Ha toothpaste, then you should be pairing it with the Boka Electric Toothbrush 2.0!

Teach Your Young Ones

If you are a parent or guardian of a young child, it is important that you also teach them how to use the right amount of toothpaste. 

As children’s teeth are still developing and they are also at risk for fluorosis, it is imperative that they use the right amount! 

Take some time to teach and oversee your children’s dental hygiene routine and make sure they understand the importance of using the right amount of toothpaste. 

This ensures that they develop healthy habits from a young age that they will then carry into adulthood. 

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