What If My Child Swallows Toothpaste?

Drawing of toothpaste squirting onto a blue toothbrush

Whether on purpose or accident, your child may swallow toothpaste at some point. If you find your child has swallowed toothpaste, remain calm! Side effects of swallowing toothpaste typically only apply if a child has consumed a large quantity (i.e. an entire tube) of prescription-strength toothpaste.

Read this blog post to become more familiar with toothpaste for kids, why toothpaste shouldn’t be swallowed, and what to do if your child swallows toothpaste.

Under 3 Years Old

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that parents brush their child’s teeth as soon as they sprout with a smear of child-friendly toothpaste the size of a grain of rice twice a day. This will help prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

3 to 6 Years Old

After age three, you can upgrade to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the brush 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 only something for their teeth.

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.

Effects of Swallowing Toothpaste

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. Excessive fluoride can also lower the amount of calcium and magnesium in the body. These are important minerals for healthy body functioning. However, these conditions are rare and unlikely to occur with proper brushing habits.

What Should I Do If My Child Swallows Toothpaste?

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

For these isolated cases, swallowing toothpaste can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Make sure your child stays hydrated and give them a snack or drink with 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.


Storybook Smiles

Storybook Smiles