What If My Child Swallows Toothpaste?

Drawing of toothpaste squirting onto a blue toothbrush

Toothpaste typically comes with a warning label that says something along the lines of: “Keep out of reach of children. If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.” This is because toothpaste is considered to be medicine.

If you find your child has either accidentally or purposefully eaten their toothpaste, remain calm. In this blog post, we discuss: toothpaste recommendations for kids; why toothpaste shouldn’t be swallowed; and what do if your child swallows toothpaste.

Toothpaste Recommendations for Kids

Under 3 Years Old

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), parents should brush their child’s teeth with a child-sized toothbrush and a smear of fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice twice a day as soon as the child’s baby teeth emerge. This will help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

3 to 6 Years Old

After age three, you can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush twice a day.

Teach Them to Spit Out Their Toothpaste

As soon as a child is physically able, teach them to spit into the sink after brushing. Explain that even though their toothpaste might taste yummy, it will upset their tummy because it is not food or good fuel for their body.

When Kids Can Brush Independently

How long a parent or caregiver brushes a child’s teeth depends on the dexterity of the child and their level of responsibility. Generally, a child can start brushing their own teeth with supervision around the time they start school and can tie their own shoes.

Why You Shouldn’t Swallow Toothpaste

As with most substances, moderation is key to obtain optimal health benefits from fluoride. While toothpaste with fluoride, fluoridated water, and routine fluoride treatments help fortify your child’s enamel against decay, regularly swallowing fluoridated toothpaste can cause your child to take in too much fluoride.

Over time, excessive fluoride consumption by young children can result in a cosmetic condition known as dental fluorosis. This is characterized by white streaks or brown specks on your child’s teeth. However, this condition is rare and is unlikely to occur with proper brushing habits.

Chronic consumption of excessive fluoride can also lower the amount of calcium and magnesium in the body. These are important minerals for healthy body functioning.

What Should I Do If My Child Swallows Toothpaste?

If your child swallows toothpaste, call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 for treatment advice. They will tell you exactly what you should do!

For isolated cases, swallowing toothpaste usually only causes mild gastrointestinal discomfort, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Make sure your child stays hydrated and give them a snack or drink that contains calcium, such as yogurt, string cheese, or milk. This may help alleviate their discomfort.

Friendly Dentist for Kids in Tyler, TX

Need a kids’ dentist in Tyler, TX? Come meet Dr. Patrick! Our cozy office has TVs in our treatment rooms, music and movie headphones, a play area, books, toys, iPads, and a treasure chest with prizes. We also offer comprehensive dental care for kids of all ages.

Contact Storybook Smiles Children’s Dentistry for more oral healthcare tips or to schedule your child’s next dental checkup and cleaning.

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