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Open Access Publications from the University of California

I Can't Believe It's Not Toothpaste! Poison Control Center Calls Regarding Dental and Oral-Care Products


Background: A cluster of incidents in which non-toothpaste products were used to brush teeth prompted a review of all calls to one Poison Control Center (PCC) regarding exposures to dental and oral-care products to determine if any resulted in significant toxicity.

Methods: Retrospective review of 65,849 calls to one PCC during one calendar year. All inquiries about exposures to substances used as dental or oral-care products were analyzed by a single reviewer for reported adverse effects, including hospital admission or PCC referral for emergent medical evaluation.

Results: 798 calls involved exposure to dental or oral-care products, comprising 1.21% of all calls received. Toothbrushing incidents with non-toothpaste products (122 cases) did not result in any significant recognized toxicity. Twenty-four patients were either referred for emergent medical evaluation (14) or were admitted to the hospital (10). In 23 of these patients (96%), the toxic agent was either an over-the-counter analgesic or a local anesthetic used to treat dental pain.

Conclusions: Among PCC calls received regarding dental and oral-care products, over-the-counter analgesics and local anesthetics used for dental pain resulted in the most frequent need for emergent medical evaluation or for hospital admission.

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