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Could I Have a Toothpaste Allergy?

Toothpaste comes in a variety of forms—with different flavors and fluctuating ingredients across different brands, types, and care specifications. So, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that allergies to toothpaste can occur.

toothpaste allergy

Most allergies can be tied to a specific ingredient, a flavoring agent, or a certain fragrance.

Thankfully most of these reactions are mild and alleviate completely after another toothpaste (without the trigger, of course) is introduced in place of the product that was causing the problems in the first place. There are also situations in which the “reaction” is actually just tooth sensitivity. In those cases, switching to sensitivity toothpaste can help.

Find out about the ingredients that can cause a toothpaste allergy and ways you can treat it by reading our dentist‘s article below.

Common Allergens in Toothpaste

Both natural and synthetic (manmade) chemicals used to add flavoring like peppermint, spearmint (mint-free toothpastes can be found here), and cinnamon are responsible for the majority of allergic reactions to toothpaste. Unfortunately, these are in most toothpastes, so it can be challenging to find alternatives.

The other ingredients in toothpaste that can cause an allergic reaction include:

  • Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB), a lathering or foaming agent
  • Fluoride (although very rare—there’s only been two published reports of this type of allergy)
  • Propylene glycol, a preservative
  • Essential oils, such as tea tree oil (which helps control bacteria in the mouth)
  • Parabens, a preservative
  • Gluten, which is added as a thickener (a list of gluten-free toothpaste can be found here.)

Signs and Symptoms

Signs that you might be allergic to something in the toothpaste you’re currently using include:

  • A rash around the mouth (contact dermatitis)
  • Chapped lips (severely chapped and cracked lips is called cheilitis [and is the most common allergic reaction to toothpaste])
  • An itchy and burning situation in and around the mouth
  • Tongue irritation
  • Swollen gums
  • Sores in the mouth

Two Types of Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is the itchy rash that is caused after a part of the body (in and around the mouth in this case) has a direct exposure or contact with substances you are allergic to.  There are two types of contact dermatitis—irritant and allergic. It’s sometimes hard to distinguish between them, but most reactions to toothpaste are thought to be allergic.


The diagnosis of a toothpaste allergy is done through the use of a patch test. Small amounts of allergens are placed on the skin of your back and covered with an adhesive sheet, which stays on for approx. 48 hours. The results are examined by a professional, and then again after 72 or 96 hours after placement.

Toothpaste Allergy Treatment

As already mentioned, it’s best to avoid toothpastes that include the troublesome ingredient or component. Many people who are allergic to artificially flavored toothpastes may better tolerate naturally flavored versions or non-traditional flavors like mango or berry.

For the treatment of immediate symptoms, a low-potency topical steroid may be recommended by a dentist to be applied on the affected parts of the face for a short period of time—in general, as long-term use of topical steroids can cause severe and permanent side effects.

Sores in the mouth, swollen gums, and tongue irritation may be treated with systemic corticosteroids (pills or shots) or topical steroid mouthwashes that can be made at your local pharmacy.

Other Considerations

Contact dermatitis of the mouth does not stop at just toothpaste. Allergic reactions in the mouth can also be caused by oral and dental care products—like mouthwashes, chewing gums, lipsticks, or lip balms.

Further, metals used in the tools that are used at the dentist’s office can also cause a reaction, such as mercury, chromium, nickel, gold, cobalt, beryllium, and palladium.

Contact Our Dentist If You Think You Have a Toothpaste Allergy

People can be allergic to any number of things in toothpaste, but more often than not, it’s an ingredient to add flavor. In that case, the best way to prevent further allergic reactions is to find a toothpaste that does not include the ingredient causing the problem.

Our dentist may be able to confirm what specific component is bothering you through a patch test on the back. Schedule your exam at our dental office by requesting an appointment online.

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Creating Smiles, PC, located in St. John and Valparaiso, Indiana, offers everything you need for a healthy smile and a healthier life. Dr. Kapers and his team can take the anxiety and uncertainty out of dental visits with sedation dentistry, and we're the premier provider of dental implants in the region.