Funny to think that one can have a toothpaste is especially funny how we always think that every resemblance of infection is a sign of some underlying chronic disease or autoimmune reaction. Something as little as mouth sores, gum bleeding, and swelling may get you thinking of a serious health problem.

In fact, yours truly was a victim of this kind of erroneous thought a few weeks ago! As much as these seemingly mild reactions could be a sign of an underlying condition or disease, they could also be allergic reactions to substances.

An allergy occurs when the immune system overreacts to a usually harmless substance, such as food, drink, medicine, or fragrance. We might have heard of food, drug, or pollen allergy, but toothpaste allergy is rarely discussed. Most kinds of toothpaste contain a number of potential allergens such as fluoride, fragrances, and flavorings.

There are different signs of a toothpaste allergy depending on the particular ingredient causing the reaction and how severe the allergic reaction is. The most common sign of toothpaste allergy is a severe form of chapped lips, known as cheilitis which could be accompanied by a rash around the mouth. Other signs of toothpaste allergy may include irritated or sore tongue, swollen gums, mouth sores, etc.

Ingredients Common in All kinds of Toothpaste That Can Cause Toothpaste Allergy

Sodium lauryl sulfate.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a powerful detergent commonly used in toothpaste and other household cleaning agents such as shampoos, shower gels, and soaps. Its function is to clean surfaces and provide a foaming lather. Most people don’t experience any side effects from having SLS in their toothpaste, but some people may experience irritation in their mouth or develop an allergic reaction to SLS contained in the toothpaste they use.


Flavoring is added to toothpaste not only to mask the unpleasant taste of other ingredients, making the toothpaste more enjoyable to use but also to freshen breath. Since toothpaste is a personal care product that is commonly used from a very young age, sensitivity to flavors can develop from this early exposure.

Propylene glycol.

Its function in toothpaste is to act as a solvent to mix relatively insoluble ingredients and also as a preservative.

Other important allergens that cause toothpaste allergy include:

  • Essential oils: These are aromatic oils obtained from different plants or synthesized from coal and petrolatum. Essential oils commonly used in toothpaste include clove oil, eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, and tea tree oil.
  • Propolis: Propolis is made up of beeswax, tree sap, pollen, and other substances. It is widely used as an ingredient in powders, ointments, creams, toothpaste, and chewing gum. Propolis is increasingly being recognized as an important allergen, with a rising prevalence from 0.5 to 1.4% over the past decade. The ingestion of propolis can have deleterious effects resulting in allergic reactions such as contact cheilitis, stomatitis, perioral eczema, and oral pain.

NOTE: Not all mouth problems (infections) are caused by the ingredients in toothpaste, some are actually signs of underlying health conditions.

If you experience an allergic reaction, such as swelling, redness, dryness, or infection in your mouth, your toothpaste may be the culprit. Discontinue that particular toothpaste and try another. If symptoms persist, contact your doctor at eDokita, a telemedicine 24/7.

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