Ever Wonder Why There Is a Poison Label Warning on YOUR Toothpaste? Or, Did You Even Know?
As a dental hygienist you would think that I would have been aware of the warning label on the back of a tube of toothpaste. However, it was Ladd McNamara, M.D. that pointed the warning label out to me one day when he was telling me about the importance of using the Natural Toothpaste that was developed by the Scientific Team that Dr. Wentz assembled. I was shocked. It even said, that children under the age of 6 should not use toothpaste. Well, what ARE they supposed to use? Dr. Ladd McNamara had the answer, or should I say, Dr. Myron Wentz had the answer, the Natural Toothpaste, of course!
As of April 7th, 1997, the United States FDA (Food & Drug Administration) has required that all fluoride toothpastes sold in the U.S. carry a poison warning on the label. The toothpaste label reads: "WARNING: Keep out of reach of children under 6 years of age. If you accidentally swallow more than used for brushing, seek professional help or contact a poison control center immediately."
Why the Need for a Warning?
One of the little-known facts about fluoride toothpaste, is that each tube of toothpaste - even those specifically marketed for children - contains enough fluoride to kill a child. As detailed below, most toothpastes, both adult and children’s toothpastes - with flavors ranging from bubble gum to watermelon - contain 143 milligrams (mg) of fluoride in each tube. This dose of fluoride is more than double the dose (60 mg) that could kill the average-weighing 2 year old child. It is also greater than the dose capable of killing all average weighing children under the age of 9.
Fortunately, however, toothpaste-induced fatalities have been rarely reported in the US. In a review of Poison Center Control reports between 1989 and 1994, 12,571 reports were found from people who had ingested excess toothpaste. Of these calls, 2 people - probably both children - experienced "major medical outcomes", defined as "signs or symptoms that are life-threatening or result in significant residual disability or disfigurement" (SOURCE: Shulman 1997).
Other problems with fluoride toothpaste:
As common sense might indicate, death is not the only concern with fluoride toothpaste. Other potential problems with fluoride toothpaste include:
Ingestion of fluoride has been documented to produce symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort at doses at least 15 to 20 times lower (0.2-0.3 mg/kg) than the doses which can kill (SOURCE: Gessner 1994; Akiniwa 1997). Thus, a 2 year old child may experience gastrointestinal ailments if they ingest a mere 2 to 3 percent of the bubble-gum flavored paste.
Between 1989 and 1994, over 628 people - mostly children - were treated at health care facilities after ingesting too much fluoride from their toothpaste. Gastrointestinal symptoms appear to be the most common problem reported (SOURCE: Shulman 1997).
Moreover, ingestion of fluoride toothpaste may damage the lining of the gastrointestinal tract - even in the absence of symptoms (e.g. nausea). This was revealed by a carefully conducted study on healthy adult volunteers which found that damage to the gastrointestinal wall occurred - in the absence of symptoms - after a single ingestion of just 3 mg of fluoride (SOURCE: Spak 1990).
Undoubtedly, some children will periodically ingest 3 mg of fluoride, or more, from toothpaste in single sittings, especially if they have access to the bubble-gum flavored varieties (which are still being heavily marketed for children).
Increasing Children's Daily Intake of Fluoride beyond Recommended Levels
Since young children do not have well-developed swallowing reflexes, they tend to swallow a large percentage of the toothpaste placed on their brush. In fact, one of the more consistent findings in the recent dental literature, is that some children - even children living in unfluoridated communities - ingest more fluoride from toothbrushing alone than is recommended as the total daily exposure. As noted by Dr. Steven Levy, of the University of Iowa:
"Virtually all authors have noted that some children could ingest more fluoride from dentrifice alone than is recommended as a total daily fluoride ingestion" (SOURCE: Levy 1999).
It is clear therefore that fluoride toothpaste represents a very important source of ingested fluoride for children. The use of fluoride toothpaste may thereby contribute to the various health risks (e.g. dental fluorosis, bone fractures, bone cancer, neurotoxicity) associated with systemic fluoride exposure.
Among some “hpersensensitive” individuals, the use of fluoride toothpaste may produce canker sores and skin rashes in and around the mouth. The evidence pointing to this possibility is compelling, but has received scant attention from the dental community.
Another potential side effect of fluoride toothpaste has only recently come to light. Research conducted in the 1990s from the US pharmaceutical company Sepracor indicated that the levels of fluoride in toothpaste may be sufficient to cause or contribute to periodontal bone loss.
Sepracor's finding is serious because periodontal bone loss is the #1 cause of tooth loss among adults. According to the scientists at Sepracor who conducted the study:
"We have found that fluoride, in the concentration range in which it is employed for the prevention of dental caries, stimulates the production of prostaglandins and thereby exacerbates the inflammatory response in gingivitis and periodontitis.... Thus, the inclusion of fluoride in toothpastes and mouthwashes for the purpose of inhibiting the development of caries [cavities] may, at the same time, accelerate the process of chronic, destructive periodontitis."
Europe: Taking a More Cautious Approach than U.S.
As with water fluoridation, western Europe has taken a more precautionary approach with fluoride toothpaste than has so far been the case in the United States.
Due to concerns about children ingesting too much fluoride from toothpaste, many European countries are now utilizing children's toothpastes with significantly lower levels of fluoride (250 - 500 ppm) than adult brands (1,000 ppm+). In the US, meanwhile, the vast majority of children's toothpastes continue to have the same concentration of fluoride (1,000 ppm+) as adult toothpastes (1,000 ppm+).
Interestingly, "despite" the fact that the vast majority of western Europe does not fluoridate its water despite the fact that children's toothpaste with lower fluoride levels are more common, Europe’s tooth decay rates are as low - if not lower - than the tooth decay rates in the heavily fluoridated United States.
So, next time you grab your tube of toothpaste, look on the back for the warning label: “If more than used is accidentally swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.”
We have a Natural Toothpaste that you can safely use; swallow if you wish, let alone your children can use, AND, it can help prevent dental caries (cavities), plaque, gingivitis, periodontitis, all without concern about bone resorption as with name brand toothpastes. It is the best solution for TRUE HEALTH.
In addition to being on a full range, quality brand of pharmaceutical-grade nutritional supplements, which is the area of Dr. Ladd McNamara, don’t forget why there is a warning on your toothpaste, and consider switching to the Natural Toothpaste that we have to offer.
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