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Dental Emergencies

Fluoride overdose

Fluoride overdoses can occur intentionally or by accident. Acute overdoses are rare and fatalities are extremely rare. Overdoses primarily occur in children under the age of six, and most commonly occur due to ingesting too much toothpaste, mouthwash, or oral rinses. However, there are industrial sources of fluoride, such as some pesticides and rodent poisons, that if ingested at extremely high doses, can also cause a fluoride overdose. Normally, the effects of a single exposure to an excessive amount of fluoride are typically not serious in the long term.

Children should never intentionally swallow toothpaste or rinses that contain fluoride. You should always assist children when using products containing fluoride to ensure that your child does not ingest too much. When your child finishes brushing , make sure they rinse their mouth thoroughly with clean water and spit out everything. Symptoms of acute fluoride overdose may include:

  • Abdominal pain.
  • A salty, metallic or soapy taste in your mouth.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Drooling.
  • Headache.
  • Irregular or slow heartbeat.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Shallow breathing.
  • Tremors.
  • Weakness.
  • Hypotension .
  • Hypocalcemia .
  • Convulsions or coma.

What to do

If you suspect your child may be experiencing a fluoride overdose:

  • Call your 911 or your local poison control center (The U.S. national toll-free Poison Help Hotline is 1-800-222-1222).
  • If your child is not allergic to dairy products, have them drink milk. The calcium in the milk will form a chemical bond to the fluoride, producing calcium fluoride, which is not poisonous and will be excreted.
Author: Symbyos staff, go2dental staff
Medical review: Thomas J. Greany DDS
Last medical review: February 7, 2021
Last updated: May 28, 2021