Parents often tell me they are concerned their young child is swallowing toothpaste when they are brushing their teeth. Yes, toothpaste is made of chemicals, some of which we do not want our children swallowing large amounts of. However, in certain young children, we do recommend the use of toothpaste for decay prevention. Even if your child is currently on “swallowable” baby toothpaste, it’s still good to avoid building up the habit of swallowing toothpaste – your child will likely continue the habit when you do switch to other kinds of toothpaste, if they’ve been allowed to swallow toothpaste all along.
Useful tips to reduce toothpaste ingestion during brushing
1. Keep the toothbrush dry before brushing
Wetting the toothbrush before dispensing the toothpaste generates more foam during brushing – more foam means more a greater volume of toothpaste that the child can accidentally swallow.
2. Choose a non-foaming toothpaste
A common foaming agent in toothpaste is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). SLS creates that frothy feel during brushing which many of us have come to believe gives a better clean. Time to debunk that myth
More foam does NOT mean more clean!
3. Wipe as you go
Removing some of the foam with a clean cloth every 10-15 brush strokes will help to reduce the remaining volume of toothpaste in the mouth that your child can swallow.
4. Use a small amount of toothpaste
A smear of toothpaste for the very young (< 3 years) or a pea-sized amount of toothpaste in the older kids who can rinse/spit is sufficient. Speak to your dentist to find out what is a good quality toothpaste for your child to use.
5. Keep the toothpaste tube out of reach
Toothpastes now come in yummy flavours and may be mistaken for food by the child. Dispensing of toothpaste should always be done by an adult so that over-ingestion does not occur.
Does your young one need to start on toothpaste? Let our paediatric dentists assess and advise you based on your child’s risks of dental diseases.
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