What's the Harm of Swallowing Toothpaste?

Toothpaste is an essential part of dental care. It makes your breath fresh and fights plaque and bacteria. However, there have been concerns regarding swallowing toothpaste. Is it possible that something that seems so harmless can harm you? Kids are always told not to swallow toothpaste as it‘s bad for them. And what happens if you swallow toothpaste? Read on to find out.

Dangers of Swallowing Toothpaste

Did you know that toothpaste contains poisonous ingredients that include triclosan and fluoride? If you swallow too much toothpaste, you may experience intestinal blockage and stomach pain. These can be accompanied by the following symptoms if the toothpaste contains lots of fluoride:

That’s basically what happens if you swallow toothpaste in copious amounts.

What Does the U.S. FDA Have to Say About Toothpaste Poisoning?

Initially, toothpaste labels do not come with any kind of warning. However, in 1997, the FDA made it compulsory for toothpaste manufacturers to include information to the effect that there could be serious health complications for children who consume large amounts of fluoride. Worse yet, children tend to love the fruity flavor of kid’s toothpaste. For this reason they tend to eat large chunks of toothpaste straight from the tube. This poses a huge fluoride poisoning risk.  

How Much Is Too Much?   

How much fluoride would you have to take to suffer adverse effects? To get fluoride poisoning, an adult would have to take around 5 to 10 grams of sodium fluoride. The average tube of toothpaste contains only 0.5 grams of sodium fluoride. This means you would have to ingest at least 10 tubes of toothpaste to hit the lower end of the threshold. It is highly unlikely that you would consume that much toothpaste unintentionally. Children are less tolerant to fluoride given that they’re smaller and less developed. Nonetheless they would also need to ingest several tubes of toothpaste for the fluoride levels to become toxic.

Choosing the Right Toothpaste

The first step to avoiding fluoride poisoning is by choosing the right toothpaste. You should make a point of getting the appropriate toothpaste for your child depending on their age. Make sure to follow the instructions indicated on the label.

After a child is born, it takes about 6 months for their teeth to start coming through. The teeth forming process goes on for about 4 to 5 years when their adult teeth start forming. It is at this point where the teeth can be adversely affected to excessive fluoride. For this reason you should use toothpaste meant for kids until they are at least 7 years old.

What to Do In Case of Fluoride Poisoning

What happens if you swallow toothpaste and experience fluoride poisoning? The first rule of thumb is not to make the victim throw up unless you’ve been directed to do so by a medical professional. Instead you should seek medical help immediately.

You might also be instructed by a medical processional to give the person milk or water. If the person is showing any of the symptoms mentioned in the previous section, do not give them anything.

Before calling for emergency have the following information at hand:

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