While brushing our teeth, we may occasionally swallow a little toothpaste by accident and tend not to worry too much about its ingredients or whether they are toxic. So, is toothpaste safe to eat?
If you swallow a small amount of toothpaste, like the one you use to brush your teeth, you’ll often be okay. But if you, or a child, consumes more of a bottle or more than one bottle entirely, watch for symptoms like nausea and stomach pain and call the Poison Center Helpline at 1-800-222-1222.
It’s hard to imagine someone eating a whole tube of toothpaste, but that doesn’t rule out the fact that it can happen. To be blunt, certain toothpaste flavors and colors are so enticing that you could run into a kid munching on the product like it’s jello or some other tasty junk food. Now that’s a real emergency. Let’s get started so you know what to do if it happens.
What Happens if You Eat Toothpaste?
According to the US National Library of Medicine, you’ll likely survive if you swallow a sizable chunk of non-fluoride toothpaste like this example from Tom’s of Maine (on Amazon).
While you might develop a nasty stomach ache, you don’t need to induce vomiting because the toothpaste doesn’t contain fluoride and is non-toxic. However, it will be of great help to drink a lot of water and milk; then, you can contact a Poison Center through the Poison Helpline at 1-800-222-1222.
You must contact a poison control center immediately if you swallow a lot of fluoride-containing toothpaste like, for example, Colgate Total Whitening (on Amazon). Fluoride is toxic in high quantities, and it’s good you know exactly how much toothpaste you’ve consumed when you call the poison helpline.
The side effects of ingesting too much fluoride include stomach pain, convulsions, diarrhea, intestinal blockage, difficulty breathing, tremors, shock, vomiting, drooling, general body weakness, and heart attack.
Drinking plenty of water or milk will be handy, but you’ll still need to rush to an emergency room. You’ll have to take activated charcoal to prevent the rest of the fluoride toxin from getting into your bloodstream. The medics will also give you calcium as an antidote and put you through many vital tests.
However, since one tube of toothpaste is only about 152 mg of fluoride, you’d have to ingest a lot of tubes at the same time for it to hurt or possibly kill an adult.
How Much Toothpaste is Toxic to a Child?
According to a report by the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), 50 mg of fluoride from toothpaste is probably toxic to a child weighing 10kg. But even 5 or 15 mg isn’t good for a kid.
It would take several full bottles of toothpaste to harm an adult, but a small child that eats one entire bottle can be a bad situation, with nausea and probably a trip to the hospital in order depending on the level of symptoms.
As parents, it’s crucial to understand firsthand that kids are always tempted to consume things they shouldn’t even be touching in the first place. Curiously, toothpaste also goes into this list, and as your child gradually takes their oral care routine into their own hands, you should know the precautions to take when dealing with toothpaste.
Remember, kids’ toothpaste often comes in delicious flavors, not to mention the artificial sweeteners and colorful stripes that make them resemble candy. It’s a no-brainer then that all these features may tempt your child to sneak into the bathroom and start eating their toothpaste.
How to Keep Your Kid Safe
Dentists and poison experts recommend putting only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on your kid’s brush and putting the tube completely out of their reach. Also, have them use fluoride-free toothpaste until they can easily spit it out after brushing.
Moreover, remind these little humans to brush carefully, spit the toothpaste, and rinse their mouths thoroughly. Finally, tell them that swallowing toothpaste is unhygienic, dangerous, and not okay.
Is it Okay to Swallow Some Toothpaste?
You should only apply toothpaste to your teeth when brushing and never at any point swallow it deliberately. But if you swallow a small amount of toothpaste by accident, you’re generally safe and shouldn’t run to an emergency center.
Most toothpastes contain sodium fluoride, an FDA-approved active ingredient that helps fight cavities. While fluoride is technically considered a toxin, it’s nevertheless safe to consume in relatively small quantities like the amounts used in toothpaste.
It’s also present in drinking water, but only in safe amounts to help reduce cavities and tooth decay. It is also regulated by the EPA and changes depending on the area’s climate.
You’d have to eat several tubes of toothpaste to have any reaction to the fluoride, and much more for a serious one. In either case, you’d have also gone nuts. Moreover, you’ll run into serious trouble if you swallow toothpaste twice a day every day.
High fluoride levels in the blood will lead to fluorosis, a condition more common in children under the age of 8 years. It’s a defect in the tooth enamel, which you’ll notice permanent white lines on the teeth. And if it gets severe, the teeth become chalky and may eventually begin to crumble.