It was... toothpaste poisoning

I’ve always wondered about the little message on the toothpaste tube warning us to call poison control if we swallow “more than used for brushing”. What are we potentially poisoning ourselves with by brushing our teeth? If I decided to one day end it all, would eating a bottle of toothpaste do the trick? What are the symptoms of toothpaste poisoning (other than foaming at the mouth :wink: )?

black teeth in little kids, for one.

all medicinal products have to have a warning like that on them. I believe that if you ate an entire tube of toothpaste, you would either vomit or have absolutely nothing happen to you. Although I see why the FDA wants to label all things medical, it seems that this is overkill. I for one turn a jaundiced eye toward many meaningless warning labels, and (as a result) many non-meaningless ones, as well.


I swallowed a LOT of toothpaste in my younger days. Suffice to say I’m still here and my teeth aren’t black.

A website on fluoride poisoning.

Now, from my tube o’ Crest, it says “0.15% w/v fluoride ion.” This seems cryptic, but lets assume it means .15% fluoride by mass. The tube is 232 grams.

232g * .0015 = 0.35 g (350 mg) fluoride per tube.

Since the estimated lethal dose in small children is 500 mg, presumably if your two year old ate an entire tube of toothpaste he might be in trouble. If an adult ate an entire tube, they might experience toxicity effects, since 350 mg (one tube) is the approximate minimum estimated toxic dose for a 150 pound (about 70 kg) adult.

Excessive fluoride use/consumption as a child can result in dental flurosis (sp). Basically, the tooth enamel becomes “chalky”–weaker, prone to decay and stain, etc. This happened to me–my %^$&*@! family doctor had me on a heavy dose of fluoride tablets as a child, and by the time I hit the 9th grade my teeth looked awful–lots dark brown stains. However, thanks to the miracles of modern dentistry (porcelain veneers), you can’t tell that anything was ever wrong with my teeth (though I am more prone to cavities and “soft spots” on my teeth than most people).

Thanks neuro. That website was spiffy. I just bookmarked it for future reference. (Er, not for future reference about toothpaste poisoning, but for general medical info.)

So I understand hypersalivation, vomiting, and abdominal pain would result from eating too much toothpaste, but mucosal injury? I’ll have to look that one up.

“Ouch, I’ve injured my mucus.”

neuroman wrote:

My guess is w/v stands for weight by volume, which seems even more cryptic…