How Much Toothpaste Is Enough?

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When I was living in the dorms of Central Michigan University back in the mid-90’s I remember my friend (Michele L.) chastising me for the extraneous toothpaste slathered on my brush. I always scoffed at her scolding . . . until recently.

Too much toothpaste

Several factors led the realization that I have always used way too much toothpaste: my holistic dentist, the $6 price tag for my natural toothpaste, and of course my friend Michele.

Basically, I have been awash in poor toothpaste stewardship my entire toothbrushing life – but don’t blame me, blame Aquafresh.

Why do we use so much?

In a word, marketing.

Remember the Aquafresh commercials instructing us to, not only use an entire brush full, but to gob it on in beautiful bendy layers. Raise your hand if you ever tried getting that perfect Aquafresh-ish bed of curvy goodness on your brush. How the heck did the do that?!

Kudos to them for a great marketing campaign, but seriously . . . how much do we really need to use?

How much toothpaste is enough?

After much experimentation I believe I have found the perfect amount of toothpaste per use.

How much toothpaste

Try it yourself using various amounts until you arrive at your choicest gob, which I bet is less than you’re using now.

You’ll be surprised how little you need and how far the paste goes when amounts are reduced. The scant looking quantity in the photo produces plenty of lather, especially if you’re using a traditional fluoride toothpaste (they’re very frothy). If you prefer a fluoride free “health store” toothpaste as I do, your lather is less but still sufficient.

As an aside: it’s also easy to make your own homemade toothpaste and homemade mouthwash.

Do we need toothpaste at all?

As I eluded to earlier my holistic dentist was part of the reason I cut back. In a recent visit he told me toothpaste is unnecessary. That piqued my interest so I tried it out; here’s what I discovered:

  1. it’s true: you don’t need toothpaste, using a brush and water alone cleans your teeth
  2. breath test: while it does get the plaque off, brushing without paste doesn’t cut breath the same
  3. Do both: I find it best to brush with paste when I want fresh breath and without when I’m just looking for a quick cleaning.
Try brushing without paste and tell us what you think. I think you’ll come to the same conclusion I did – sometimes it’s needed, sometimes . . . not so much.

Michele was right

So there you have it – the answer to the age old question, “How much toothpaste per use is enough?”

What do you know . . . Michele was right all along!

Note: Be sure to brush at least twice and floss at least once each day, it is the best dental insurance you can employ.

*******

PS… don’t tell Aquafresh we’re rebelling against their beautiful layers of gleaming Aquafreshiness, it will only lead to a new and improved marketing campaign that might just pull the wool over our eyes for another several decades.



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1 Paul Williams

Haha, funny but true, Matt! I’ve been doing this for some time now. I generally only put enough on to cover about 1/3 of the bristles. Works great for me.

2 retirebyforty

I use a pretty small pea size dot.

3 Joe

Interesting question. What about getting enough fluoride to adequately fluoridate your teeth? It seems to me too small an amount may foam but not provide adequate fluoride. With my 1% dentist provided toothpaste I use a “pea” sized piece but with .14% Colgate Total, is a “pea” size enough? What do you think?

4 Matt Jabs

I don’t believe in fluoridated toothpaste, but that’s a discussion for another day.

5 Carol@inthetrenches

Now that is taking frugallity to another level. I thought the post would be how much to have in your storage program. Always interesting….

6 Matt Jabs

It’s more about not wasting than frugality, that’s all you need, the savings is just a bonus.

7 Dentist Ventura

“Raise your hand if you ever tried getting that perfect Aquafresh-ish bed of curvy goodness on your brush”
[hand raised and waving profusely back and forth]
I can also attest to that fact we use too much toothpaste. A small pea size amount is usually enough.

8 Matt Jabs

LOL, thanks for the supportive opinion doc.

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