Fluoride Action Network


PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the average amounts of fluoridated toothpaste applied by parents to a child’s toothbrush in response to instructions to limit the quantity to a “pea-sized” or “smear” amount.

METHODS: Fifty parents of 12- to 71-month-old children participated in this study. They were presented with three toothbrushes and asked to apply the amount of toothpaste they use typically with their child-a smear or a pea-sized quantity. The results were compared to the recommended weights of 0.25 g (pea-sized) and 0.125 g (smear).

RESULTS: The mean amount applied in response to a “smear” weighed 0.21 ± 0.19 g, which differed from the recommended weight of 0.125 g (P=.002). The mean amount applied in response to a “pea” weighed 0.30 ± 0.21 g, which was greater than but not statistically significantly different from the recommended weight of 0.25 g (P=.10). Parents applied, on average, 0.33 ± 0.24 g of toothpaste when instructed to apply the amount they typically use with their child.

CONCLUSIONS: Most parents use more fluoridated toothpaste than is recommended for young children and verbal instructions to limit the dose are ineffective. Education by demonstrating a smear and pea-sized amounts of fluoridated toothpaste is recommended.