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Toothpaste overdose

 

Toothpaste is a product used to clean teeth. This article discusses the effects of swallowing a lot of toothpaste.

This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

  • Sodium fluoride
  • Triclosan

Where Found

 

  • Various toothpastes

 

Symptoms

 

Swallowing a large amount of regular toothpaste may cause stomach pain and possible intestinal blockage.

These additional symptoms may occur when swallowing a large amount of toothpaste containing fluoride:

  • Convulsions
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drooling
  • Heart attack
  • Salty or soapy taste in the mouth
  • Slow heart rate
  • Shock
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

 

Home Care

 

Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional. Seek immediate medical help.

If the product was swallowed, immediately give the person water or milk, unless told otherwise by a health care provider. Do NOT give water or milk if the person is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.

 

Before Calling Emergency

 

Determine the following information:

  • The person's age, weight, and condition
  • The name of the product (as well as the ingredients and strength, if known)
  • The time it was swallowed
  • The amount swallowed

 

Poison Control

 

Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

 

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

 

If you swallow toothpaste that does not contain fluoride, you may not need to go to the hospital.

Those who swallow a lot of fluoride toothpaste, especially if they are small children, may need to go to the hospital emergency department.

At the emergency room, the health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Blood and urine tests will be done. The person may receive:

  • Activated charcoal to prevent the rest of the poison from getting absorbed into the stomach and digestive tract
  • Airway and breathing support, including oxygen. In extreme cases, a tube may be passed through the mouth into the lungs to prevent aspiration.
  • Calcium (an antidote), to reverse the effect of the poison
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (electrocardiogram, or heart tracing)
  • Endoscopy -- a camera down the throat to see burns to the esophagus and stomach
  • Fluids through a vein (by IV)
  • Medicines to treat symptoms
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage)

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

People who swallow a very large amount of fluoride toothpaste and survive 48 hours usually recover.

Most nonfluoride toothpastes are nontoxic (nonpoisonous). People are very likely to recover.

 

 

References

Kulig K. General approach to the poisoned patient. In: Marx J, ed. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2013:chap 147.

 
  • Tooth anatomy

    Tooth anatomy - illustration

    The structure of the tooth includes dentin, pulp and other tissues, blood vessels and nerves imbedded in the bony jaw. Above the gum line, the tooth is protected by the hard enamel covering.

    Tooth anatomy

    illustration

    • Tooth anatomy

      Tooth anatomy - illustration

      The structure of the tooth includes dentin, pulp and other tissues, blood vessels and nerves imbedded in the bony jaw. Above the gum line, the tooth is protected by the hard enamel covering.

      Tooth anatomy

      illustration

    Talking to your MD

     

      Self Care

       

        Tests for Toothpaste overdose

         

           

          Review Date: 11/2/2014

          Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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