“Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If more than used for brushing is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.”
Sounds kinda scary, doesn’t it? Some toothpaste warning labels read like the stuff you see on cleaning chemicals next to the skull and crossbones. But is eating toothpaste really that harmful for kids?
Around 1997, the FDA decided that toothpaste manufacturers weren’t following safety guidelines closely enough. And while the poison control center probably gets its fair share of toothpaste calls, you’d have to practically eat an entire birthday cake made of toothpaste for it to be an issue. If your kid somehow manages to do that, you might want to call the Guinness World Records instead.
Swallowing small amounts is generally considered safe, but too much might cause stomach pain or intestinal blockage.
How Fluoride Can Disrupt Growth
Plus, many toothpastes contain fluoride, which is healthy for your teeth in small amounts. But too much fluoride can disrupt the formation and growth of adult teeth later.
So as a general rule, it’s best to spit the toothpaste out. Yet kids being kids, that won’t always happen. While you probably don’t want to encourage them to eat toothpaste, they probably aren’t ingesting enough for it to be a big deal.
Use Children’s Toothpaste
One way to get around this is to use a children’s toothpaste that is low in fluoride and even less of a problem if swallowed. Some toothpaste for babies can even be swallowed outright, since babies are too young to know to spit.
Use Just Enough Toothpaste and Store Out of Reach
Another way to discourage ingesting too much toothpaste is to put just enough on the toothbrush for that session. Most parents do use too much. All it takes is a little bit.
You should also keep the toothpaste high up away from their reach. This prevents it from becoming a toy. It also helps your household budget