Achoo! From itchy, watery eyes to swollen tongues and obstructed airways, allergies from pollen, foods, and medications can really mess us up. Did you know that you can even be allergic to toothpaste? Though rare, the literature on toothpaste allergies suggests about 0.1-0.3% of the population displays a contact allergy to toothpaste. If you're one of the few, don't expect to sneeze every time you brush your teeth. Find out more about toothpaste allergy symptoms, common allergens found in toothpaste, and what to do if you suspect you might have a toothpaste allergy.
Do You Have a Toothpaste Allergy?
Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications
What Are the Signs of an Allergic Reaction to Toothpaste?
Allergies occur when your immune system overreacts and starts creating antibodies when it comes in contact with a normally harmless substance. That's why your nose might start running when you breathe in pollen, or you might break out in hives when you eat a peanut.
However, the most common toothpaste allergy symptom is cheilitis, which means inflammation of the lips. Cheilitis might display as dermatitis around the mouth, including a rash and dry, cracked lips. In some cases, you might also experience sensitivity or a mild burning sensation.
With toothpaste allergies, symptoms inside the mouth are very rare. You should see your dentist or primary care physician immediately if you experience any itchiness or swelling in your mouth. You might have a food allergy or a different oral health problem instead.
What Are Potential Allergens in Toothpaste?
Toothpaste contains several potential allergens. The most common culprit of toothpaste allergies is the flavoring, such as the peppermint, spearmint, or cinnamon flavor added to freshen breath and mask the taste of other ingredients. Other less common allergens include:
- Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB), a lathering or foaming agent.
- Fluoride, a natural mineral that helps strengthen enamel and protect teeth from cavities.
- Propylene glycol, a preservative.
- Essential oils, such as tea tree oil which helps control bacteria in the mouth.
- Parabens, a preservative.
- Gluten, which stabilizes and thickens the toothpaste.
Thankfully, many types of hypoallergenic toothpaste exist for those with a fluoride allergy, gluten intolerance, and more. Talk to your dental professional about any allergies you might have and ask about the best hypoallergenic toothpaste for you.
What Do You Do If You Think You're Allergic to Your Toothpaste?
Are you experiencing swollen and cracked lips or dealing with a rash around your mouth? If you think you're allergic to your toothpaste, then switch immediately. Try a different flavor or brand to see if the symptoms resolve.
If the problem persists, then reach out to your dentist or primary care physician. They might refer you to an allergist, who can perform tests to determine which ingredients or materials are causing the irritation. You might learn it's not your toothpaste at all, but a new chapstick or facewash. Once the offending ingredient is identified, you can avoid it in the future.
A toothpaste allergy should not get in the way of great oral hygiene. If you're having trouble finding a toothpaste that works for you, your dental professional would be happy to help you find the right product. That way, you can get rid of unwanted allergy symptoms and take care of your radiant smile.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.