You have so many choices when shopping for children’s toothpaste. There are pastes designed for kids in different age ranges. They come in a variety of flavors. Some have decorative tubes, often featuring popular characters loved by young children. Then you have toothpastes with and without fluoride.
Fluoride-free toothpastes are growing in popularity, especially in areas with adequate fluoride in the drinking water. Many parents and caregivers assume that it’s okay for children to swallow fluoride-free toothpastes, but that isn’t the case. Keep reading to explore this issue in greater depth.
What is Fluoride, and Why Do Kids Need it?
Fluoride is a natural mineral found in rocks. The mineral enters the dirt and water from direct contact with rocks and can make its way into the air as well. When fluoride is consumed through drinking water in low dosages, it helps prevent cavities and tooth decay.
Fluoride is healthy for children and adults when introduced naturally and kept to minimal doses. Poor dental hygiene and the consumption of sugary foods and refined carbohydrates allow harmful bacteria to accumulate in the mouth, producing an acid that pulls minerals from the teeth.
Healthy doses of fluoride can reintroduce healthy minerals back into the teeth. That may slow or even stop the development of cavities.
Children’s Toothpaste and Fluoride
Toothpaste made for children contains lower amounts of fluoride than adult toothpastes. Manufacturers know that kids are more likely to swallow some or all of their toothpaste, so they keep that ingredient to a minimum.
You can also buy fluoride-free children’s toothpaste if you know that your child receives an adequate supply from your drinking water or a supplement. All-natural toothpastes that contain simple ingredients may give you the most peace of mind when it comes to kids who tend to swallow their toothpaste.
What Happens if You Swallow Fluoride Toothpaste?
When fluoride is consumed in large amounts, there are a few potential consequences:
- Inadequate development of tooth enamel
- White streaks on the surface of teeth
- Gastrointestinal distress (nausea, vomiting, etc.)
Fluorosis is a dental condition that interferes with healthy tooth enamel development in children. Swallowing too much fluoride can negatively impact the development of adult teeth before they even break through the gums.
Can Kids Safely Swallow Fluoride-Free Toothpaste?
Children’s fluoride toothpaste is necessary for kids who don’t get adequate amounts of this mineral in their drinking water. Parents and caregivers can minimize the risk of swallowing too much fluoride by purchasing toothpaste designed for each child’s current age. Fluoride amounts are limited in toothpaste designed for younger children.
You can also reduce the risk by purchasing fluoride-free toothpaste for kids. Make sure to discuss this with your child’s dentist. You want to make sure your kid receives an adequate supply of fluoride even if it doesn’t come from toothpaste.
Since fluoride-free toothpaste contains no fluoride, there is no risk of overdose. You still need to look at the remaining ingredients to determine how healthy a toothpaste is for your child. Many parents are now using pastes with all natural ingredients that they recognize. That can limit the risk of a negative reaction if your child does swallow a bit of toothpaste.
Parents and caregivers should start teaching children not to swallow toothpaste early. If they’re ready to use toothpaste, they’re ready to learn how to use it safely.