Is It Safe for Kids to Swallow Toothpaste?

Brunette boy brushes his teeth with a blue toothbrush and toothpaste while looking in the mirror

As a parent of young children, you may be worried about whether swallowing toothpaste should be a cause for concern. Here, we’ll answer the question: is it safe for children to swallow toothpaste?

Is It Safe for Kids to Swallow Toothpaste?

Ingredients in toothpaste include substances like a mild abrasive, some form of soap, and fluoride. In the proper dose, fluoride is beneficial for your teeth because it keeps the enamel strong, inhibits bacteria growth, and helps prevent tooth decay. However, it can be hard on your stomach in higher doses, especially in combination with the other ingredients in conventional toothpaste.

If your child swallows a large amount of toothpaste (say, you walk into the bathroom and find them sucking on the toothpaste tube), they could end up having minor gastrointestinal symptoms, like nausea. Kids toothpastes are also often sweetened with sorbitol, which could have a laxative effect. Additionally, if your child regularly consumes a large amount of fluoridated toothpaste before the age of six when their adult teeth are still developing, they could experience a cosmetic condition called dental fluorosis, which manifests as white streaks on their teeth.

What to Do If Your Child Swallows Toothpaste

If your child swallows a tiny bit of toothpaste, you have nothing to worry about. If your child swallows a bit more than that, they might get a stomach ache so be sure to give them something containing calcium, like yogurt or milk, to help ease their stomach since calcium binds with fluoride. If you think your child swallowed an extremely large amount of toothpaste, you should call Poison Control at (800)-222-1222 for treatment advice. Do not make them vomit.

How Much Toothpaste to Use for Teethbrushing

Because swallowing toothpaste can sometimes upset a child’s stomach, the American Dental Association suggests that parents use very small amounts of fluoridated toothpaste early on. For example, you should be using a tiny smear (no more than the size of a grain of rice) to brush your child’s teeth when they are younger than three years old. After three years old, you can start to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste until they are six years of age. And as soon as they are able, encourage your child to rinse and spit their mouth after brushing.

If you have any other questions about your child’s oral health, contact us today!

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