How to Teach Kids to Not Swallow Toothpaste

While toothpaste is essential for keeping your child's teeth sparkly, clean and free from cavities, it isn't safe for him to swallow large amounts of it. In fact, swallowing huge doses of toothpaste containing fluoride can actually damage his permanent teeth. Ingesting too much toothpaste can also cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Even more frightening, consuming too much fluoride from toothpaste can lead to shock, slowed heart rate, difficulty breathing and heart attack. Prevent these worst-case scenarios by teaching your child to always spit his toothpaste out rather than swallowing it.

  1. Practice spitting. Children aren't born knowing how to spit out their toothpaste, so you need to teach your little one exactly how it's done. Take him outside and have him take a swallow of water. Encourage him to practice spitting it into the grass. Show him how to do it if he's not catching on. Offer praise or high fives when he spits well, and he'll likely to be motivated to take his new skills into the bathroom, too.

  1. Turn spitting into a game. Place a colored ring, such as a plastic infant toy, around the drain in your bathroom sink. Encourage your child to spit all of his toothpaste into the ring. You might brush your teeth at the same time and challenge him to a friendly duel to see who can get more of their toothpaste spit into the ring. Let your child win so he's motivated to keep spitting in the future.

  1. Use an unpleasant tasting toothpaste. If your child doesn't like the flavor of the toothpaste, he'll be more willing to spit it out rather than swallowing it because it's yummy. Many all-natural toothpastes are made with baking soda so they don't have a tasty bubble gum or fruity flavor, and they can help you accomplish your goal.

  2. Tips

    Teach your children when and where it's appropriate to spit, especially if you let him practice outside. While spitting in the sink while brushing his teeth is acceptable, spitting at school or in church is not allowed.


    If you suspect that your child has swallowed a large amount of toothpaste that contains fluoride, call poison control immediately.


    Ask your child's dentist when it's appropriate to let your child brush with fluoride toothpaste. Usually it's not recommended for children under age 2.

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