Dr. Dean

What's So Bad About Swallowing Toothpaste?

Posting Date: 02/24/1999

Ruth: I?m calling about the directions on toothpaste. It says that it is, ?For the use of adults and children, two years of age and older.?

Then it goes on to say, ?For children under six, use just a small amount. Keep out of the reach of children under six years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately.?

Dr. Dean: I did a story on this once. Now, if we followed these directions, every parent whose kid swallowed some toothpaste would be calling poison control, and we would bring our medical care system to a complete and total halt.

Ruth: My granddaughter is two and little kids will swallow some when they brush, simply because of the sweet taste. And adults may swallow some of it in the course of brushing our teeth two or three times a day. What?s in toothpaste that we need to be so concerned about?

Dr. Dean: The toothpaste companies were muscled into putting those warnings on tubes for a lot of different reasons, mostly from the people who have a great fear of fluoride.

When children use too much toothpaste, they have a tendency to swallow some of it, and on a daily basis, they can get too much fluoride. This can cause an excess of fluoride, which in turn, causes their teeth to stain.

The answer is to this is to teach your kids to use a pea-sized wad of toothpaste on their toothbrush when brushing and no more. Then if they swallow it, that tiny amount won?t make a difference, because as you know, tiny amounts of fluoride are not harmful.

Fluoride in the water is a good thing, and the talk about it causing cancer is one of the oldest health battles going.

Now, fluoride in the water is fine, but sometimes the problem can be too much fluoride, with fluoride in the toothpaste, fluoride in our medicine and fluoride in some of the foods the kids are eating.