SOS for Parents

SOS for Parents: What if Your Child Swallows Toothpaste?

Children can get a little too eager about good oral hygiene. More particularly, the part that involves toothpaste. Sometimes, they would try to swallow it, like it’s some kind of fruity snack. Other times, you catch them nibbling on the paste from the tube. And then, of course, there are those times that you only see the aftermath of the ‘crime’: the gel smeared all over the bathroom counter. They simply couldn’t resist the sweet flavor of toothpaste. In your mind, as the panicky, new mom, the question always stands out: ‘what happens to my child after swallowing toothpaste?’

When Kids Swallow Toothpaste

The simple answer is, your child will most likely be fine. It shouldn’t be a cause of concern in most instances. The only exception is when they consumed too much. This often triggers an upset stomach that you might need to take them to a doctor. Why does this happen? Most toothpaste is formulated with fluoride. When too much of this mineral goes into the stomach, it causes irritation, which then leads to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Now, you probably think why on earth would there be a potentially dangerous substance in a gel that people use every day? The short answer is, fluoride helps strengthen teeth. It reduces the growth of oral bacteria. It prevents cavities, even reversing decay when it’s in the early stages. It delays the loss of minerals in the enamel, the protective layer of the tooth. In short, fluoride is essential to oral health. What’s not essential is, again, too much of it. Remember, you can never have too much of a good thing.

How You Can Avoid Toothpaste-Swallowing

There are lots of ways you can break off your kid’s obsession over toothpaste. For one, focus on the right amount of gel. The more toothpaste they use, the more they will grow fond of it. Show them that pea-sized is already enough. Pediatric dentists and Lehi-based practitioners share that for kids aged three to six years old, 0.25 grams is the ideal amount. Don’t leave the tube in your sink. Place it in an elevated cabinet, where kids won’t be able to reach it. One other factor you can tweak is the flavor. Replace your fruity, sweet gels with mint-flavored ones. These are less tasty, so your toddler wouldn’t think of it as a snack. Just a word of caution: You also don’t want kids to be totally turned off by your new gel, as it might discourage them from brushing altogether.
For the most important step, brush alongside your child, so they can pick up your habits. Of course, the assumption here is, you’re doing the correct routines, like cleaning for at least two minutes, holding the brush at a 45-degree angle to the gums, scraping the tongue gently, and of course, the most important, spitting the toothpaste out. Perhaps you can make a game out of this brushing regimen, so it’s more fun for the kids.
It’s not uncommon for kids to love toothpaste so much, what with the sweet flavors and cute colors. When they can’t get enough of it though, treating it as a snack and leaving your bathroom smeared with red, sparkly gels, it’s time for the intervention.