When your immune system overreacts to a usually harmless substance, such as a food, medicine or flavoring, you might have an allergy to that substance. As the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America notes, allergies are some of the most commonly occurring chronic conditions. While you might hear about food allergies, pollen allergies or drug allergies often, you might not hear about an allergy to a component in toothpaste all that much. While it's not that common, it can occur, which is why it's important to know what to look for.
Signs of an Allergic Reaction
If you're allergic to a toothpaste, you're probably not going to develop a case of the sniffles each time you brush your teeth. The signs of a toothpaste allergy can vary based on what ingredients you're allergic to and how severe your reaction is.
Instead, you might find yourself with a rash due to contact dermatitis. According to a study published in The Epidemiology of Allergy, this kind of contact allergy is common. So, if you happen to be allergic to one of the ingredients in your toothpaste, you may see a rash of redness begin to appear around your mouth or wherever the toothpaste came in contact with your skin.
Symptoms of Allergic Contact Dermatitis
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of contact dermatitis include:
A red rash
Itching, sometimes severe
Dry, cracked or scaly skin
Bumps and blisters, sometimes with oozing and crusting
Swelling, tenderness or feelings of burning
See a doctor if your symptoms are extremely painful and persistent, are suddenly widespread or last longer than three weeks. Your doctor will be able to help you find the source of the allergic reaction and develop a plan to get you comfortable and healed.
Potential Allergens in Toothpaste
Toothpastes can contain a number of potential allergens. These often include gluten and flavorings.
Gluten. It might be more common to hear about gluten allergies in foods, but did you know that toothpaste can also contain gluten? Make sure to check the label for common ingredients that may contain gluten, such as wheat, next time you’re toothpaste shopping if you already know you have a gluten allergy.
Flavorings. Two potential allergens that are common in toothpaste are the flavorings cinnamon and mint. While not common, it’s possible to have an allergic reaction to these flavorings that can cause skin or mouth irritation, and potentially even trigger an asthmatic reaction if it is a severe reaction.
If it does turn out that you are allergic to an ingredient in your toothpaste, the good news is that there are plenty of toothpastes out there that you can switch to, so your teeth won’t have to go without proper cleaning and care.
What to Do If You Think You're Allergic to Your Toothpaste
If you've developed severely irritated and chapped lips or a rash around your mouth, and you think your toothpaste is to blame, the first thing to do is stop using that toothpaste. You can try switching to a new variety or brand and see if your symptoms resolve.
It's also a good idea to see your dentist or doctor. Your dentist or doctor may recommend having an allergy test to determine if you're allergic to the toothpaste. If the ingredients in the toothpaste are known, your doctor or dentist can test individual ingredients to further narrow down the cause of your allergy. That way, you can identify the specific allergen and learn to avoid it in the future.
A toothpaste allergy doesn't have to get in the way of having great oral hygiene. Once you have talked with your doctor and know what you're allergic to, you know what to look for – and what to avoid – when you're browsing the oral care aisle.