Dangers of Toothpaste

So the back of the toothpaste tube says that it’s dangerous to swallow more than the amount one would use to brush one’s teeth.

Why? What consequences am I facing? What’s a “dangerous” amount of toothpaste (standard Crest style)?

Fluoride is poisonous. While the amount found in toothpaste is small, it’s still a poison. This site tells some, though it is clearly biased.

In order for an adult to ingest enough flouride to be dangerous, they’d end up eating a whole tube at one sitting. (Sitting? I wonder if a person bent on eating a tube of toothpaste would sit down to do it?) If you ate that much toothpaste you’d just throw it up.

Small children can be poisoned by a smaller amount, though, which is why it’s recommended that they only be allowed to use a pea-sized amount, and be supervised while they brush to be sure that they aren’t swallowing it.

If its so poisonous, why do they make it taste so good?

So people will willingly put it in their mouths.

Same reason as for chewable vitamins, I’d guess.

I’ve been driving myself nuts trying to find even ballpark figures for the toxicity level of toothpaste (can you say “compulsive”? I knew you could) with no luck. Almost every site that addresses toothpaste toxicity has the exact same information as this page, word for word, and it just tells you what to do if you ingest “too much” toothpaste. The toothpaste companies’ sites say to contact a poison control center if you swallow “more than is necessary to brush your teeth.” The Georgia Poison Center says:

They do not, however, say how much toothpaste does cause toxicity. They do say that they don’t provide information about how much of any substance can harm or kill someone for fear that the information might be misused.

Maddening. I’d call my own Poison Control Center to inquire, but in my experience, the staff there is busy enough with actual incidents and probably wouldn’t appreciate my taking up their time with hypotheticals.

This is a guess, my math could be wrong. however

The LD50 for sodium fluoride is 52mg/kg for a 4% NaF solution.


toothpaste is supposedly 0.1% fluoride (i can’t find any universal number. some websites say 240ppm, some say 4000 ppm of fluoride)

so i’m guessing 520mg/kg would be the LD50 if it were 4000 ppm of fluoride. 8667mg/kg if it were 240 ppm

Which translates to what risk for what amount of toothpaste?

Roughly, it means that half the people that eat that amount will die.

Obviously this is derived, not tested directly. YMMV

I believe there was at least one other thread about this on here. I don’t remember how much detail. I don’t think I posted to it, but I read for over two hours competing websites about the dangers.

I think that a bigger danger to a young child is that they may absorb too much flouride and it will stain their teeth, especially if they live in an area which has water with good concentrations of natural or added flouride. White spots result.

I honestly don’t think there was much of a case made for poisoning if a kid swallowed a big glob of paste. But don’t hold me to that last statement.

240 ppm seems much more realistic for fluoride concentration, which means a 220 pound man would have to eat 1.9 lbs of toothpaste to have a 50% chance of dying.
Assuming the 4000 ppm (parts per million) stat is correct, a 220 pound man would have to eat 1.84 ounces of toothpaste to have a 50% chance of dying.

At 520mg/kg, by my math, a 100kg individual would need to eat 52g of toothpaste. My tube of “Tom’s of Maine” toothpaste contains 99g. Therefore, at high concentrations, A tube of toothpaste is enough to have give two people a 50% chance of killing themselves. At the higher number, you’d need to eat approximately 867g, or almost nine tubes of toothpaste, to reach a 50% probability of death.

heres other interesting info about overfluoridation and the consequences of it



From http://www.emedicine.com/emerg/topic181.htm

Seems impartial and professional.

Thanks Cal for the humor. Funnier than the Onion.

General Ripper was right.