Toothpaste overdose

Poisoning from an ingestion of toothpaste.

Poisonous Ingredient

  • Sodium fluoride  
  • Triclosan


Where Found

  • Various toothpastes

For fluoride:

  • Body as a whole       o Salivation       o Salty or soapy taste       o Tremors       o Weakness       o Convulsions  
  • Respiratory       o Breathing difficulty (shallow respiration)  
  • Gastrointestinal       o Vomiting       o Diarrhea       o Abdominal pain  
  • Nervous system       o Shock

For regular toothpastes:

  • Gastrointestinal       o Possible intestinal obstruction with resulting abdominal pain

Home Treatment
For any toxic ingestion or allergic reaction, seek emergency medical care immediately. Give milk or water to dilute. Do not induce vomiting.

Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:

  • The patient’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, or a local emergency number
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the patient to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Take the container with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room
Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

For fluoridated toothpastes, regular poison management procedures may be instituted (for swallowed poison):

  • Placement of a tube down the nose and into the stomach (a nasogastric tube, or an NG tube) to wash out the stomach  
  • Activated charcoal administration  
  • Endoscopy - the placement of a camera down the throat to see the extent of burns to the esophagus and the stomach  
  • Give IV fluids  
  • Admission to the hospital  
  • Give an antidote  
  • Treat the symptoms

For regular toothpastes:

  • The patient may not need to be seen in the emergency room  
  • Treat the symptoms

Expectations (prognosis)

  • For fluoridated toothpastes - If the patient survives for 48 hours, recovery is usually likely.  
  • For regular toothpastes - Most non fluoridated toothpastes are relatively nontoxic. Recovery is very likely.


Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Janet G. Derge, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.