Is it Safe to Swallow Toothpaste?

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It is important to be aware that swallowing fluoride toothpaste can have adverse effects, especially in children. Although many children enjoy the taste of toothpaste, you should know that ingesting too much fluoride can potentially cause permanent stains on their teeth through a condition called fluorosis. Flurosis produces a range of different stains on developing teeth. Children are most at risk of developing fluorosis between the ages of one and four. Once your child is over the age of 8, there is very little risk of teeth staining due to fluorosis.

Fluorosis is characterised by discolorations and stains which tend to appear as yellow or brown streaks or spots. Depending on the amount of fluoride ingested, the discolorations can range from being fairly minor to quite extensive. In the most serious cases, children’s teeth can develop black and grey spots and even pits. Once the period of tooth development is finished, the permanent teeth are at no risk of dental fluorosis whatsoever. Fluorosis has no adverse effects apart from the aesthetic problems it brings. In some cases the stains are so tiny, that only your dentist may be able to tell they are there. Stains caused by fluorosis will last for life and in some cases will become more noticeable as your child grows older.

In most cases, the aesthetic damage caused by fluorosis won't be serious enough to require treatment. In many cases, the affected teeth won't be prominent and so any aesthetic issues won't be noticed. In the more severe cases, chemical whitening or other cosmetic dentistry may be required to treat the stains. In very serious cases, there is the option of covering the affected teeth using dental restorations like dental crowns or dental veneers.

To help protect against the risks associated with fluorosis, make sure your child only uses a pea size amount of toothpaste for brushing. Encourage your child to spit out the toothpaste, and if for any reason you think they are still swallowing it, try switching to a non-fluoride toothpaste.

Read more in the Dental Treatment Information Guide »