Is it healthy for toddlers to swallow toothpaste? Find out!

Kid Brushing Teeth
Q: My son loves sugary treats but it’s always a battle to brush his teeth. Most times, all he does is swallow the toothpaste and shut his mouth. I’ve tried all sorts which only result into tantrums. How can I make him more cooperative?

It’s not healthy for toddlers to swallow toothpaste because it contains fluoride, and consuming too much can be harmful. Make sure you use low fluoride toothpaste, preferably a kids’ toothpaste and don’t use too much; you need just about the size of a pea. Encourage him to practice spitting it out with water. Note that babies up to 18 months old don’t need toothpaste at all. Use a soft brush and water only.

That said, good nutrition is crucial to oral health, so, it’s important that you reduce non-natural sugary treats to the barest minimum. In the meantime, his sweet tooth calls for regular and thorough brushing indeed.

Most toddlers make a big fuss about tooth brushing, however, getting them to cooperate with you depends on your persistence and how fun you make the activity. The fun part is sure to motivate them to cooperate. Try out these tips:
  • Model regular and thorough tooth brushing. Have him copy you while you brush, making it playful. Pretend to hunt for predators hiding in his mouth and make up silly tooth brushing songs.
  • Take turns. Offer to allow him to brush your teeth while you brush his. The idea of brushing mummy or daddy’s teeth will surely excite him. Of course, you can always brush your teeth properly in his absence.
  • Create social pressure. Watch movies of kids brushing on YouTube, find pictures of kids brushing their teeth online and tape to the bathroom mirror. As you brush with him, make up stories that teach the importance of tooth brushing, using the kids in the picture.
  • Praise his efforts. This will likely cheer and motivate him to comply with your directives.
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