Ask a Dentist

October 14, 2022

Q: Is It Bad To Swallow Toothpaste?

Young woman holding a toothbrush and placing toothpaste on it.

Some people might wonder, if toothpaste is safe for daily use, does that mean it’s safe to swallow as well? Most toothpastes contain an ingredient called sodium fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found, not only in toothpaste, but also in drinking water and some foods. 

Because you can drink water and eat foods that contain fluoride, it’s natural for you to assume that you can consume toothpaste as well. However, that’s not the case.

What Happens When You Swallow Toothpaste

Swallowing a large amount of toothpaste can cause stomach pain and possible intestinal blockage. In addition, these symptoms may also 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

What Is A Large Amount Of Toothpaste?

Toothpaste can be poisonous if enough is swallowed. Often, this requires ingesting more than a few spoonfuls of toothpaste. That said, we don’t recommend you use more than a pea-sized amount of toothpaste when you brush your teeth.

What Should I Do If I Or My Child Swallowed Toothpaste?

If the amount of toothpaste swallowed is small, it’s unlikely that you or your child will experience anything beyond a stomachache. Consuming a snack or beverage containing calcium like milk or yogurt will help ease an upset stomach because calcium binds with fluoride.

But if you or your child accidentally swallowed a large amount of toothpaste, DO NOT try to throw up. Seek immediate medical help by either calling your local poison centre for treatment advice or visiting your nearest healthcare professional.

Do you have questions about fluoride, toothpaste or teeth in general? Our team is more than happy to answer them and help you get the information you need to improve your oral health. Schedule an appointment with Dental Image Therapy Centres today or visit us at one of our Winnipeg locations: St. Vital Centre and Garden City Shopping Centre. 

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