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What Are the Signs of a Toothpaste Allergy?

By Angela Farrer
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Common signs of a toothpaste allergy include inflamed and itchy skin around the rim of the mouth, facial swelling, and anaphylactic shock in some rare cases. Many dentists and dermatologists report that toothpaste allergies are relatively uncommon and can be easy to misdiagnose as a result. Some physicians mistake an allergy to toothpaste for another skin problem such as eczema, contact dermatitis, or impetigo. A confirmed toothpaste allergy is often traced to certain chemical ingredients that trigger these symptoms in some people. It is possible to maintain good oral hygiene with an allergy to toothpaste once sufferers and their doctors are able to identify the triggering ingredients and find toothpastes without them.

Some allergic reactions to toothpaste can trigger outbreaks of a condition known as cheilitis, which is characterized by cracks in the skin at the corners of the mouth. This problem normally results from a bacterial infection, and the allergy-causing ingredients in certain toothpastes can lead to the same sores. Mild allergies can cause cheilitis to stay only at the mouth corners, although more serious reactions can spread to the lips and surrounding skin. The resulting flaky and raw skin may be temporarily cleared up with an antibiotic ointment, although outbreaks usually reoccur once the sufferer uses the same toothpaste responsible for the allergic reaction.

Swelling and inflammation are additional signs of a toothpaste allergy. Some people may complain of swollen skin surrounding the mouth. Others may experience raw and irritated patches or even canker sores on the inner lining of their mouths. Tender and inflamed gums can also occur in some people with sensitivities to certain toothpaste ingredients. Common toothpaste ingredients that can cause these reactions include fluoride and certain humectants such as propylene glycol.

A few allergy sufferers may also have reactions to some brands of organic toothpaste made with mixtures of herbs. This type of toothpaste allergy is frequently more common in people with confirmed allergies to certain substances, such as cinnamon or anise seeds. In addition to rashes or sores on the skin and mouth lining, these kinds of toothpaste allergic reactions can also sometimes cause stomach upset if sufferers accidentally swallow small amounts of the toothpaste.

Fatal toothpaste allergic reactions are relatively rare, and some physicians report a few cases per year on average. Anaphylactic shock is generally the most apparent symptom of this kind of allergy, and it can be life threatening without prompt medical intervention. This condition usually causes swelling in the throat to the point of possible asphyxiation.

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Discussion Comments

By burcinc — On Jan 05, 2013

@turkay1-- Symptoms inside the mouth like constant ulcers, irritation, burning and pain are probably a sign of an allergy. I'm sure a fluoride allergy is possible, but when it comes toothpaste, people are most commonly allergic to the ingredient sodium lauryl succinate. Some brands contain more of this than others, so you may do better on certain toothpastes.

If symptoms are outside of the mouth, around the mouth and on the lips, it's probably an infection and not an allergy.

By turquoise — On Jan 04, 2013

@turkay1-- It might be. Have you tried changing your toothpaste to see if it goes away?

You might be allergic to fluoride. It happened to my sister and she has to use toothpaste without fluoride now. It's not easy because almost every toothpaste contains fluoride. She uses a natural toothpaste for that reason.

It could also be your toothbrush or you might be brushing too hard and irritating your gums. You should speak to your dentist about it.

By candyquilt — On Jan 04, 2013

When I'm brushing my teeth, my gums start to ache. Is this a sign of an allergy?

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