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Poison Center Helpline 1-800-222-1222

Toothpaste

The minty flavor of toothpaste is likely the one thing you taste every day. For children, toothpaste comes in a variety of flavors—including wild strawberry and bubble gum—making it appealing as they learn to brush their teeth. As parents and caregivers know, children swallowing toothpaste is all too common.

Every year, IPC’s helpline (1-800-222-1222) manages about 500 cases of children swallowing an excessive amount of toothpaste. Exposures typically occur when a child is unattended, has access to a toothpaste tube and are able eat a portion of its contents.

What to know about excess toothpaste exposure

  • Toothpaste contains fluoride, which can be harmful if too much is swallowed.

  • Ingesting a few mouthfuls of toothpaste could result in symptoms.

  • In most cases, children who consume an excessive amount of toothpaste are not exposed to a toxic amount and will have mild symptoms at worst.

Symptoms of a fluoride poisoning

Children who eat a sufficient amount of toothpaste will experience mild symptoms, including:

  • Upset stomach

  • Discomfort

  • Nausea

  • Isolated episode of vomiting

  • Diarrhea

IPC is here to help. If a child has ingested toothpaste, contact the IPC helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Calls are free and confidential. Toxicology experts are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Learn more about pediatric toothpaste ingestion on our My Child Ate…Toothpaste webpage.

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75k Total cases managed yearly
39% Cases involving children ages 5 or under
90% Cases from the public resolved over the phone