My 4 year old daughter likes to swallow toothpaste. Can a pediatric dentist help her? I’ve already talked to her, given her time out, and taken her to our family dentist, but she keeps swallowing it. I do only give her a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on her brush, so it’s not much, but she swallows it almost every time. She puts the toothbrush in her mouth, swallows the paste, and then brushes her teeth. She thinks it’s funny for some reason. I’m not sure what to do about this other than take her to a pediatric dentist for a second opinion. Your thoughts? Thanks. Jill
Jill – We understand your concern. It’s good that you’re taking precautions by only giving your daughter a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. But it shouldn’t be swallowed on an ongoing basis. If it contains fluoride, swallowing large amounts of toothpaste can cause stomach pain, intestinal problems, breathing problems, and other medical issues.
Usually, an experienced pediatric dentist has treated many more children than a family dentist. He or she might have helped other patients with the same issue. Also, a pediatric dentist has experience with different behaviors in children and can offer practical suggestions.
We have a few suggestions, too:
- Closely supervise when your daughter brushes her teeth.
- Reward her with something meaningful when she doesn’t swallow her toothpaste.
- Time-outs aren’t working, so consider withholding a privilege she really enjoys if she swallows toothpaste.
- Instead of allowing her to brush her own teeth, brush them for her until the habit is under control.
- Keep the toothpaste out of your daughter’s reach.
- Choose a toothpaste flavor that your daughter doesn’t like.
- Use organic or natural toothpaste. Your dentist can ensure your daughter’s teeth have enough fluoride.
- Be patient, kind, and consistent with helping your daughter make improvement.
If you schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist, he or she can give you more suggestions to help your daughter break the habit. Your daughter might respond better if the dentist speaks with her about the habit. It’s likely a temporary phase that will improve with time.
This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.