toothpaste allergy

The most integral part of maintaining clean teeth is brushing your teeth every day. A toothpaste plays a crucial role to maintain hygiene, provide essential minerals and freshness to the oral cavity.

But have you ever experienced itching or redness or allergic reactions while using a new toothpaste?

Well, then it’s time to get to know more about these symptoms and different ways to prevent it.

Toothpaste allergy is not quite common these days but poses to be a topic of concern for individuals who are allergic to specific components of the toothpaste.

In this case, it is essential to pay attention to their symptoms and get professional help and advice to relieve their allergies.

A simple ingredient can cause toothpaste allergies to a combination of more than one element in the toothpaste.

Let’s read further to understand how you can be allergic to toothpaste and what can you do to prevent it.

What is a toothpaste allergy?

Allergies or allergic reactions are a result of a hypersensitive immune response of the body towards a foreign substance referred to as an allergen.

The symptoms can range from a mild skin itch to a severe anaphylactic reaction. (1)

When individual components of a toothpaste initiate such a type of immune response, it is called as toothpaste allergy.

In a toothpaste allergy, the symptoms are usually limited to a skin reaction, clinically referred to as contact dermatitis.

What causes toothpaste allergy?

There is a variety of toothpaste available in the market today. Some differ in flavors, some are fluoridated, or some have teeth whitening properties.

In all these cases, a toothpaste consists of a wide range of ingredients, some of which may cause toothpaste allergy. (2)

On a broad spectrum, the components that may initiate a toothpaste allergy are as follows:

Abrasives

Abrasives are used to clean the teeth and remove the plaque from the tooth surface. Specific abrasive agents like alumina, silica, calcium carbonate, etc. may lead to an allergic reaction to the gums or the surrounding oral tissues.

Artificial color

Artificial colors are chemical agents used to make the toothpaste look different than the others.

The most commonly used chemical is titanium dioxide which gives a white color to the toothpaste. These chemicals can be unsuitable to some people.

Flavoring agents

The key ingredient that sells the toothpaste in the market is the flavor of the toothpaste.

Spearmint, cinnamon, peppermint, cherry or even chemicals to impart flavors of the fruit are used to add that extra freshness and taste to your toothpaste. These are the most common cause of toothpaste allergy. (3)

Thickening agents

Cellulose is the most common type of thickening agent used in the toothpaste. These agents can sometimes initiate an immune reaction in the oral cavity.

Fluoride

Fluorides although provide essential elements to strengthen the teeth and also helps in teeth whitening is considered as a common agent to cause toothpaste allergy.

Fluorides most commonly cause perioral dermatitis in the toothpaste. (4)

Artificial sweeteners

Saccharin is most widely used as an alternative to sugars in toothpaste to add a little amount of sweetness to the taste and prevent tooth decay.

But some individuals who are allergic to saccharin can experience toothpaste allergy.

Foaming agents

Sodium lauryl sulfate which is used to produce foam while brushing to aid in the cleaning of the teeth has also reported being a potent allergen to cause toothpaste allergy.

The most common allergic reaction associated with this foaming agent is canker sore.

Certain enzymes

In some toothpaste, enzymes are added to increase the property of digestion in the body. Papain is commonly used in such cases but can prove to be hypersensitive to the oral tissues.

How can a toothpaste allergy present clinically?

The symptoms of a toothpaste allergy may range from a mild reaction of the oral tissues to the involvement of the lips and surrounding skin around the mouth. Clinically a toothpaste allergy may present as follows:

  • Contact Dermatitis – It is the most common symptom. It shows as a rash that starts from the corner of the mouth if left untreated can spread downwards. It may sometimes also involve the lip. (5)
  • Canker sores – These present as white ulcers surrounded by a red hue. Sometimes also show little yellow specks in the center. Foaming agents commonly cause it.
  • Perioral dermatitis – Red itchy rash that resembles acne that starts around the lip and can involve the cheek, nose or chin. Fluorides are the prime cause of this allergic reaction.
  • Cheilitis – It causes dryness and cracking of the areas around the corner of the mouth. In severe cases, it can swell up and form pus.
  • Inflamed gums and mouth infection.
  • Severe allergic reactions may cause respiratory problems, digestive disorder or even anaphylaxis.

What is the treatment?

The best treatment is always to follow the rule of prevention. Although allergic reactions subside when the cause of the response is removed.

In some cases, a doctor may recommend the use of topical steroids, for example, hydrocortisone gels to soothe the skin allergy.

Swollen gums and reactions in oral tissues may require systemic corticosteroids or steroid based mouthwash to heal the symptoms.

How can you prevent it?

As it is said, prevention is always better than cure. It is essential to stay aware of any changes in the mouth or skin especially when you have started using a new toothpaste.

  • Stop using the toothpaste and switch to a known brand or a simpler toothpaste and check if the symptoms subside.
  • Rinse your mouth thoroughly and wash your face to remove all the extra toothpaste left after brushing.
  • If fluoride is the cause of your allergy, switch to a fluoridated toothpaste and also avoid any other oral health products that may contain fluoride.
  • Get professional help to detect the exact cause and follow appropriate instructions advised.

Take away message

Choosing the right toothpaste can sometimes be a daunting task. Always make sure to look at the back of the cover to read the ingredients and be aware to avoid a toothpaste that has specific components to which you may be allergic.

Although allergy from toothpaste is a rare occurrence, the reactions are equally unpredictable. It is best to take precautions and be cautious while selecting a toothpaste.

If in case you notice changes in the oral tissues or skin around your mouth and have no clue what it may be, take professional help from a dentist of a physician to get appropriate treatment and advise.

An allergic reaction doesn’t mean to stop your oral healthcare routine. Avoid the cause and choose the best product suitable for your health and needs.