I love this kid, but for heaven's sake...
May 6, 2011 10:07 AM   Subscribe

My 3-year-old may or may not have eaten dental floss. What, if anything, should I do?

My daughter, who will be 4 in August, claims to have swallowed a piece of dental floss. I saw it before she got hold of it and it was maybe 3" long, probably a little less. This particular child is an extremely unreliable reporter, especially where health matters are concerned; she often claims to have symptoms she does not have in the hope of being given tasty liquid medicine, and has recently started making up stories just for the heck of it. But our conversation about the dental floss started with, "Mama, does people eat dental floss?" And I have been unable to find the piece of dental floss either on the floor or in any of the trash cans she might have put it in. I'm skeptical that she really swallowed it--I think it would be awfully hard to get down. But it was mint-flavored.

So: if your kid ate a 2.5" piece of dental floss, what would you do? How worried would you be? If you only thought she might have eaten the dental floss, what would you do? Is the fact that the piece is so short relevant--if she ate it, can we expect her to just pass it? Is it so extremely unlikely that she actually succeeded in swallowing it that I should just not worry about it, even though I can't find it?

I might call the doctor's office when they get back from lunch, but I thought you folks might enjoy chiming in on this one. She's my third child but this is new territory for me.
posted by not that girl to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
I think everything will be totally fine. Only bit of advice--if and when it starts to come out the other end, don't pull on it! You can definitely do more damage that way than by letting it run its natural course. (Advice given to me by vet after a dog ate a small bit of medical/ACE bandage).
posted by ejazen at 10:10 AM on May 6, 2011

Not a doctor/your doctor/particularly smart but I can't imagine that could hurt her. I think calling the doctor's office is a good idea though since it will make you feel better if anything.
posted by ghharr at 10:10 AM on May 6, 2011

Yes call. The thing they would worry about is tangling inside. I'm sure you'll find out if she poops it out.
posted by stormpooper at 10:12 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would maybe call the doctor, and then I'd wait. And just sorta wait. And wait some more.

(If it helps to know, Toddler Zizzle swallowed a coin that I didn't know he had swallowed until, ahem, you know...so, I imagine dental floss would likely not cause any damage it a coin wouldn't....)
posted by zizzle at 10:14 AM on May 6, 2011

If it was 3 feet of floss I'd worry. That could et wrapped around something. A couple inches is unlikely to be problematic. But if you're really concerned you should call your doctor.
posted by GuyZero at 10:15 AM on May 6, 2011

I would probably call our pediatrician if I was concerned. Not make an appointment, but just call.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:27 AM on May 6, 2011

Sounds like she'll be ok.
posted by Slinga at 11:03 AM on May 6, 2011

You'll want to call your pediatrician. I'm a vet, and have had to surgically remove dental floss, carpet strings and yard from dogs & cats. In some cases, the string can be pulled taut and actually lacerate the soft tissue of the bowel.

(This isn't medical advice. You kid isn't a cat/dog and I'm not your doctor.)
posted by Nickel Pickle at 11:05 AM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Ignore that advice I just gave you.... I misread and thought you wrote 2.5' not 2.5".

I really am literate, I promise!
posted by Nickel Pickle at 11:09 AM on May 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

OK, I called the doctor's office and they said a piece that small would totally be OK and would just pass if she really did swallow it. Which is what I figured but it's good to have an expert opinion.
posted by not that girl at 11:09 AM on May 6, 2011

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