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Definition Return to top
Toothpaste is a product used to clean teeth. This article discusses the effects of swallowing a lot of toothpaste.
This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.
Poisonous Ingredient Return to top
Where Found Return to top
Symptoms Return to top
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:
Home Care Return to top
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 instructed otherwise by a health care provider. Do NOT give water or milk if the patient is having symptoms (such as vomiting, convulsions, or a decreased level of alertness) that make it hard to swallow.
Before Calling Emergency Return to top
Determine the following information:
Poison Control Return to top
The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national 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.
Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.
See: Poison control center - emergency number
What to Expect at the Emergency Room Return to top
People who swallow regular (nonfluoride) toothpaste may not need to be seen in the emergency room.
Those who swallow a lot of fluoride toothpaste (more than one tube) may need to go to the emergency room.
At the emergency room, the health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. The patient may receive:
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Patients who swallow a very large amount of fluoride toothpaste and survive 48 hours usually recover. See also: Fluoride overdose
Most nonfluoride (regular) toothpastes are relatively nontoxic (nonpoisonous). Recovery is very likely.Update Date: 2/9/2009 Updated by: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Greg Juhn, MTPW, David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Stephen C. Acosta, MD, Department of Emergency Medicine, Portland VA Medical Center, Portland, OR. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network (10/24/2007).