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Is it safe for kids to swallow toothpaste?
Q: My 4-year-old daughter sometimes swallows the toothpaste instead of spitting it into the sink. Is it safe for her to occasionally swallow it, and if not, how do I make sure she spits it out? She seems to enjoy the taste, and that may be why she swallows it, but I don't want to discourage her from brushing.
Jeana San Antonio, Texas
A: Children and their parents should be aware of the potential damage that swallowing toothpaste with fluoride can cause. Although your daughter enjoys the taste, you should know that she could potentially stain her permanent teeth if she swallows too much fluoride on a regular basis. The condition is called fluorosis and is very common in children today. You need to control how much toothpaste is used; try to keep the amount she uses to less than the size of a pea for each tooth brushing. You should also encourage her to spit out any toothpaste she can. If you think she's still swallowing it, you can switch to a non-fluoride toothpaste until she's spitting the excess out regularly.