Don’t eat it: more children ill from too much toothpaste

Is this a medicine? Photo:

More children are swallowing large amounts of toothpaste, leading to stomach problems, toxicology centre NVIC has said.

The centre received 301 reports of people who had ingested too much toothpaste last year, up 16 compared to 2021. Some 285 cases involved children.

The fluoride in toothpaste can lead to intestinal problems and, if taken in large amounts, affects heart function.

“Often children get hold of the tube when their parents turn their back. They are accidents, not incidents that happen during the teeth cleaning ritual,” toxicologist Antoinette Riel told RTL Nieuws.

Fluoride poisoning affects the intestines but usually the problem is not serious, Riel said. But if a child has eaten a quarter of a tube in one go, the doctor needs to be called, she said, particularly if the child has swallowed toothpaste for grown-ups, which contains three times the amount of fluoride than that for children.

Not using fluoride toothpaste at all is not an option, dentist Wouter Vriesman told RTL. “That will really turn your teeth into a sieve. I have had parents here who did not give their children fluoride toothpaste. The state of their teeth was worse than that of other children,” he said.

Toothpaste tops the list of reports of overexposure, followed by perfume and nail polish remover. In total some 1,855 people were affected by cosmetics exposure, including 1,203 children up to four.

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