What Happens If Toddler Swallows Fluoride Toothpaste

It’s a common occurrence during the training days of tooth brushing. If you’ve ever spoken to your kiddo’s pediatric dentist, they would recommend you start brushing even before they have teeth. You’d use an extra soft finger brush or even a wet soft cloth to clean their gums right before their teeth start coming out.

Soon after they have a few teeth on the top and bottom row, you can get a toddler-type toothbrush and give them fluoride-free toothpaste to get training.

During this time, my daughter would always like the taste of the fruity toothpaste and swallow most of it, which is fine as long you used the recommended pea-size amount of toothpaste.

This didn’t set a good habit for the future when you’d want to use fluoride toothpaste to do a better job cleaning their teeth.

If your toddler swallows some fluoride toothpaste don’t be alarmed immediately. The most that can happen, if you used the directed pea-sized amount, would be some stomach upset. If you noticed your child swallowing a large amount of fluoride toothpaste, it’s time to call your doctor or poison control (1-800-222-1222) as the high level of toxicity can be dangerous.

The toothpaste that we all typically use (Colgate, Crest, etc..) usually has a low dosage of fluoride to get your teeth nice and clean. Several other ingredients make up the toothpaste; swallowing them can lead to stomach irritation like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

If you transitioned your kiddo from fluoride-free toothpaste to one with fluoride in it, and you notice them swallowing it a bit, take note.

It’s okay if they swallow a little or a lot from time to time, but it could lead to larger problems like gastrointestinal symptoms if you notice this happening daily.

As with our daughter, we stayed on the fluoride-free toothpaste for some time longer and taught her the good habit of spitting out all the toothpaste after you’re done using it.

Fluoride isn’t immediately dangerous but doesn’t belong in your child’s body

Toddler using toothpaste

If your little one swallowed toothpaste once, don’t be alarmed. I’m glad you stumbled on this page, and hope to educate you on how it can be a problem if it occurs over the long run.

As I mentioned, fluoride has no need in your kiddo’s body, and can actually lower the amount of calcium and magnesium in their body.

If you bought the sensitive-teeth toothpaste, you want to be extra cautious, as it includes the ingredient nitrate which isn’t in most normal toothpaste.

I wrote another post a little while ago about how babies who drink unpure water with nitrate in it can get blue baby syndrome.

The nitrate that gets in your baby’s body affects the oxygen levels in their blood cells and they can start getting blue around parts of their body.

This is a rare thing that usually happens when babies are drinking formula milk, and the water used in the mixture is contaminated.

For your toddler whose most likely not drinking formula milk anymore, the nitrate is still harmful. So be extra cautious if you’re giving your little one those special sensitive teeth toothpaste with nitrate in it.

What to do if your toddler swallowed some fluoride toothpaste

If your little one swallowed a little fluoride toothpaste once, the worst that can happen is some stomach upset. If he or she has taken down alot by accident, you’ll want to contact poison control immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

A good tip, if this was a one-time low dose occurrence, is to give them something they like with calcium like milk or cheese. The calcium will bind with the fluoride and help with the relief process.

What’s my alternative safe toothpaste option for the future?

If you noticed your little one swallowing fluoride toothpaste on more than one occurrence, it might be time to switch things up.

An easy fix is to go back to fluoride-free “training toothpaste” and try to instill the good habit of spitting out the toothpaste so that your kiddo can go back to the fluoride toothpaste.

Orajel Elmo FluorideFree Training Toothpaste, Fun, One Tube: #1 Pediatrician Recommended Brand for Kids NonFluoride Toothpaste, Sesame, Berry, 1.5 Oz

Check price on Amazon (and see other training toothpaste options).

If you do gown this route, you’ll definitely want to stick to the regular 6-month pediatric dentist visit routine or even shorter time frame. This way your little one’s dentist can have more frequent looks to make sure his or her teeth are healthy.

Our recent pediatric dentist visit

So we took our 3 year old for her 2nd ever dentist visit. Her first one was before COVID, and was to check all her newly erupting teeth. In 2021, we decided to schedule her to start doing her regular 6-month checkups.

As parents, our concern was about any risk of what happened if she swallowed a bit of flouride toothpaste regularly (we noticed regular upset stomach issues and wanted to know of any correlation), what her oral health was like, and overall dental care feedback.

We were happy to find out that our little one’s teeth were healthy. She did not enjoy the experience, one of us had to hold her to comfort her while the dentist did her checkup.

After checking each tooth, flossing, and adding some fluoride, the dentist said the only thing we wanted to look out for was brushing the insides of her major molar teeth regularly.

It’s easy for us to brush our own teeth, and make sure we hit every spot. When it comes to your kids, it’s not so easy. We’ve started adding flossing nightly (something we didn’t do before) and making sure we got the molars very good on a daily basis.

Make sure to address any unique dietary needs for your toddler, as that might adjust the feedback you’d get from the dentist. Overall, our little one had healthy teeth, and we’ve been regularly using fluoride-containing toothpaste after graduating from fluoride-free about the age she was 2 and half.

We're a group of writers, mostly parents, some medically certified, who publish helpful articles for all stages of your child from newborn, infant, toddler, to a big kiddo.

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