Is It Okay for Children to Swallow Toothpaste?

dad brushing his teeth with his young daughter

It can be challenging to help your child build strong oral health habits. Young children often have difficulty with coordination and consistency, and sometimes they’ll even eat things that are definitely not food. Because kids’ toothpastes are often colorful and flavored, they’re high on the list of things your child may try to sample. This can be concerning as many toothpaste packages even include disclaimers such as ‘Do Not Swallow’.

So how much of a cause for concern is ingesting toothpaste? Does it pose any serious health risks? At Springhurst Hills Dentistry in Louisville, Kentucky we understand your concerns! Fortunately we can confirm that in small quantities there shouldn’t be anything for you to worry about. It’s worth looking into the effects that eating toothpaste has though, and the best ways to prevent your child from getting too enthusiastic.

Why Shouldn’t My Child Swallow Toothpaste?

The main chemical in toothpaste that makes it not ideal for consumption is actually fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that’s useful in small quantities. It helps make the enamel of your teeth more resistant to tooth decay and reduces the likelihood that cavities will form. A small amount of fluoride is even added to drinking water for an additional oral health boost.

The amount of fluoride that kids brush with is well below what would be toxic, so you don’t need to worry if they happen to swallow their toothpaste rather than spitting it out when they finish brushing. With larger quantities there’s a bigger risk. They could end up giving themselves an upset stomach, and may experience nausea or vomiting. If this is the case, place a call to emergency services.

How Can I Prevent My Child From Eating Toothpaste?

Although swallowing small amounts of toothpaste isn’t an immediate cause for concern, it can have negative effects on dental health in the long term. That’s why it’s best to teach your child proper brushing habits. There are other steps you can take to curb this behavior as well, including:

  • Make sure they’re using an age-appropriate toothpaste. Toothpastes for younger children will include lower levels of fluoride.
  • Try a different toothpaste flavor. A more traditional mint flavor is less appealing for kids, so they’re less likely to attempt to eat it.
  • Help your child with their routine. Being there to show your child what to do is often the best approach. Have a cup of water handy to make sure they can rinse and spit safely.

Trust Your Family’s Oral Health to Springhurst Hills Dentistry

Our Louisville, Kentucky dental team is here to service all of your family’s oral health needs. Contact us to schedule an appointment today! We also have answers to your pediatric dentistry questions.

Posted on behalf of Dr. Lan Tran, Springhurst Hills Dentistry

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Springhurst Hills Dentistry
10494 Westport Rd, Suite 107
Louisville, KY 40241
(502) 365-9699

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