Because toothpaste can taste good, some young children have a hard time not swallowing it. So If toothpaste is safe for daily use, does that mean it can be swallowed, too?
Sodium fluoride, an ingredient commonly found in toothpaste, is a toxin. But it’s not dangerous when consumed in very small amounts.
Aside from toothpastes, fluoride can also be sourced from our drinking water, the food we eat, and at the dental office.
What happens when you swallow toothpaste?
A toothpaste should be applied to the tooth and not ingested.
If you swallow a small amount, it’s generally safe. But if you’ve consumed too much, it may increase fluoride levels in your blood supply and result in an upset stomach, vomiting, and nausea.
For children ages 8 and below, too much fluoride can also cause white lines or spots to appear on their teeth. This condition is called Fluorosis.
Dental fluorosis can be treated cosmetically, but the damage is permanent. In severe cases, it can also cause the teeth to erode.
So, is it better to avoid using fluoridated toothpaste?
Fluoride is used in toothpastes as it helps strengthen the enamel. Even if drinking water in your area already contains fluoride, using a fluoridated toothpaste will still benefit your dental health.
Applied twice daily, fluoride can help you prevent cavities and reverse tooth decay at its early stages.
Both fluoride sources can help make the enamel stronger and more resistant to decay.
Fluoride toothpaste is also great for children above 18 months old as their teeth are still developing and their brushing skills aren’t as good yet. The key is to supervise them when brushing.
How to keep children from swallowing toothpaste
● Use age-appropriate toothpaste. Toothpaste for children contains less fluoride due to risks of ingestion.
● For many very young children, it may be better to use toothpaste without fluoride until you are sure your child is not swallowing the toothpaste and can spit out the excess as it foams up during brushing. Non fluoridated toothpaste types can be found in most health food stores.
● Please read the labels as some children's toothpastes have extra high fluoride levels compared to regular toothpastes marketed for adults.
● Parents should supervise brushing until approximately age eight to ensure proper oral hygiene is occurring and kids are not swallowing toothpaste.
So, why shouldn’t you swallow toothpaste?
Some fluoride is good to help prevent cavities. But too much can be harmful. Be careful.
If you accidentally ingested excessive amounts of fluoride, call your dental office or the poison control center in your area. If you’re unsure about proper dental care habits for your family, speak with your dental team for professional advice.
Our dental office in the Lethbridge area welcomes patients of all ages. If you have any dental-related concerns, please call us. We can help.