A Malaysian dentist has shocked TikTok users by revealing how much toothpaste people should really be putting on their toothbrushes — and it’s a lot less than most people think.
Dr. Gao Jye Teh, a graduate of King’s College in London, has gone viral with a video in which he shows that the amount of toothpaste often used in commercials is actually too much.
Instead, he says, anyone over age three only needs a dollop of toothpaste as big as a single pea.
In his TikTok video, which has been viewed over six million times, Dr. Gao first squeezes out a long line of toothpaste over all the bristles on a toothbrush.
‘The amount of toothpaste used in commercials is way too much,’ he writes.
He then shows that children under age three only need a tiny smear of toothpaste.
‘They might have trouble not swallowing the excess fluoride toothpaste,’ he explained to Buzzfeed, noting that too much can be detrimental to little kids, whose adult teeth are still developing underneath their gums,
As for anyone over age three, not that much more is necessary: just a pea-sized amount is perfect.
‘This is because fluoride, when ingested in large amounts, can cause a cosmetic condition known as dental fluorosis on the developing teeth. The cosmetic implications range from mild discoloration to yellow and brown stains to obvious pits in the teeth,’ he said.
Using less can prevent this from happening — and a pea-sized amount is just enough to get the benefits.
Dr. Gao has a few more tips. He also said that people shouldn’t rinse their mouths out when they’re done brushing, because the fluoride in the toothpaste needs time to work.
And mouthwash is best used at other times of the day, separate from brushing, to increase the amount of fluoride exposure.
Dr. Gao said it’s not surprising that people don’t know the correct way to care for their teeth, since they don’t treat dental health as part of their overall health.
‘good example is how patients view bleeding on different parts of their body. If their eyes were to bleed, many people would go to a hospital immediately. But, if their gums bleed, many people would just shrug it off, when, in actuality, bleeding gums are an early sign of gum disease,’ he said.
He’s turned to TikTok to educate more people, since he himself said he’s learned from the ‘short, digestible, and entertaining’ videos.
‘It got me thinking, “What if I could spread dental awareness in this memorable way, too?” So, I gave it a shot,’ he said.
What is fluoride and how does it damage your teeth?
Fluoride is a mineral that is found naturally in a number of different foods, as well as soil, water, and plants.
It can help to prevent or even reverse dental cavities, and stimulates the formulation of new bones, which is why it is often added to toothpaste, and also put in to drinking water by many countries around the world.
However, exposing the teeth to excessive fluoride can cause severe and long-term damage. Too much fluoride can cause a condition known as dental fluorosis, which leads to discoloration of the teeth, poor mineralization, and mottled enamel.