Why Does Toothpaste Make My Stomach Hurt? (+Tips to Reduce)

Brushing your teeth regularly is extremely important, but if you find that your stomach hurts after brushing your teeth, it can make the task feel daunting.  

You don’t want to have to deal with an upset stomach at all – let alone twice a day while trying to complete an essential task such as brushing your teeth!

The good news: there is likely a simple explanation as to why your toothpaste is making your stomach hurt – and a simple solution, too! 

That’s where we come in. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the reasons why your toothpaste may be making your stomach hurt, as well as some ways to combat this frustrating problem. 

We’ll be covering: 

  • Possible causes of stomach pain after brushing your teeth
  • How to reduce your risk of stomach pain after brushing your teeth
  • Frequently asked questions. 

Let’s go ahead and jump right into it! 

Possible causes of stomach pain after brushing your teeth 

So, why exactly do you experience stomach pain after brushing your teeth? 

There are a few different reasons why you may be experiencing this sensation. Let’s go ahead and take a look at some of the most common reasons for stomach pain after brushing:

Acid reflux

What many people do not realize is that certain toothpastes may trigger acid reflux

The mint oil that some toothpastes contain can cause the esophagus to relax, which in turn allows acid or bile to travel upwards and cause heartburn symptoms. 

So, if you suffer from acid reflux and are struggling to identify what is triggering it, your toothpaste may be to blame!

If this is the case, consider switching to a different brand of toothpaste that contains more mild ingredients that won’t trigger your acid reflux. 

Swallowing air while brushing

Have you ever heard of aerophagia

This phenomenon occurs when you swallow excess amounts of air. This air remains trapped in your stomach, causing you to feel bloated and uncomfortable. 

While this can happen at any time, it is something that can commonly occur when you are brushing your teeth. 

If you find that you swallow large amounts of air while brushing your teeth, then aerophagia may very well be the reason why your stomach feels upset afterward. 

If this is the case, try your best to minimize your air intake while brushing! This may take a bit of practice, but it can make a huge difference when it comes to minimizing stomach pain after brushing. 

Swallowing the toothpaste

One reason why you may find yourself with an upset stomach after brushing your teeth is due to you swallowing the toothpaste. 

Most brands of toothpaste contain ingredients such as fluoride that are not meant to be ingested. 

While it would take swallowing a few tubes of toothpaste for this to be extremely damaging, ingesting even small amounts of toothpaste may lead to an upset stomach. 

This is an issue that is particularly common among children, but it is also a problem that often continues in adulthood. 

Unless you are using a toothpaste that is safe to swallow, make sure that you are not ingesting it in any capacity. 

But there’s a new ingredient in town that has proven to be just as effective as fluoride and completely non-toxic. A double-blinded randomized clinical trial (NCT04756557) also proved that hydroxyapatite is a safe and efficient anticaries agent in oral care. 

If you find yourself or your children struggling to not swallow your toothpaste, it may be a good idea to switch to a fluoride-free formula (such as those from Boka!).

Gag reflex triggered

The sensation of an upset stomach after brushing your teeth may be due to the simple issue of your gag reflex being triggered. If your toothbrush reaches far back into your throat, you may feel the urge to gag.

This is something that many people experience particularly strongly when brushing their tongue. 

When something touches the base of your tongue or your tonsil area, your body's natural gag reflex is likely to be triggered. To combat this, try not to apply too much pressure with your toothbrush in these areas. 

Although the triggering of your gag reflex can be irritating and frustrating, it is nothing to worry about. 

This reaction is completely normal and won’t do any lasting damage! If you find that your reflex is being triggered to the point where you may actually be sick, however – it may be worth consulting a doctor. 

Toothpaste chemicals 

One of the most common reasons behind stomach pain after brushing your teeth is the chemicals that are present in the toothpaste that you are using. 

Many brands of toothpaste use harsh ingredients that may upset your stomach. 

Fluoride is known to cause gastrointestinal issues, meaning that if you notice some nausea after using toothpaste with fluoride, there is a high chance that it is the culprit!

Other ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate and triclosan can cause allergic reactions,  irritate the stomach lining, and cause pain or discomfort. 

Brushing too vigorously

Believe it or not, brushing your teeth a little too well may just be the reason behind your upset stomach! 

Brushing too harshly across your gums can actually cause irritation and inflammation in both your mouth and stomach, leading to pain and discomfort. 

Over-brushing is also a potential reason behind stomach pain. Brushing your teeth for too long (over two minutes) can lead to the enamel on your teeth wearing down. 

This in turn can lead to an increase in plaque and bacteria on your teeth, causing an upset stomach. 

This issue does have an easy fix: simply brush your teeth more gently and for no more than two minutes! 

You may also find that switching to a different type of toothbrush may be beneficial when it comes to protecting your tooth enamel. You can find good quality toothbrushes and oral care products at Boka’s

Boka's toothbrushes deliver a deep clean, gently with activated charcoal bristles. Boka’s electric toothbrush uses advanced sonic technology, while our manual toothbrush has silky-soft bristles.

How to reduce your risk of stomach pain after brushing your teeth?

Now you know why you may be experiencing stomach pain after brushing your teeth, but one important question still remains: how can you prevent this from happening? 

There are few different measures that you can take to help reduce stomach pain after brushing:

Use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth

One of the best things that you can do for both your mouth and your stomach is to switch to a toothpaste that is created for sensitive teeth. 

A toothpaste that doesn’t contain harsh ingredients such as fluoride is going to entirely eliminate the chemicals that are likely to be the cause of your stomach pain. 

A fluoride-free toothpaste such as the ones available from Boka will be able to maintain healthy teeth without running the risk of stomach pain. 

Boka toothpastes utilize the active ingredient n-Ha as an alternative to fluoride, which protects and rebuilds teeth while also being safe to swallow. 

This toothpaste is sulfate-free, paraben-free, and has no artificial flavors – all factors that help to ensure you are not ingesting harmful chemicals! 

Rinse mouth thoroughly after brushing

Once you are finished brushing your teeth, make sure that you are rinsing your mouth thoroughly. 

This is particularly important if you are using a toothpaste that contains fluoride. If you do not rinse well, the chemicals in your toothpaste can linger in your mouth. 

The longer that these ingredients stay in your mouth without being rinsed off, the higher the chance is that you will swallow them. 

As we have discussed, swallowing toothpastes that contain fluoride often leads to stomach problems such as nausea and discomfort. 

It would be very difficult for a healthy adult to achieve any level of fluoride toxicity simply by swallowing a small amount of toothpaste once in a while. However, a child’s guardian should only smear a rice grain sized amount of fluoridated toothpaste on the toothbrush, and the child should rinse right after brushing.

Avoid brushing immediately after eating

You may have heard that brushing your teeth immediately after eating is detrimental. But why is this the case? 

To put it simply, the acid that is contained in many foods weakens the enamel on your teeth. Brushing too soon after eating can spread this acid further and continue to weaken the enamel. 

The American Dentists Association recommends that you wait at least one hour after eating before brushing your teeth. This is particularly important if the food that you have consumed is acidic in nature. 

Foods and beverages that are high in acids wear away the enamel that protects your teeth, a process known as tooth erosion,” says the American Dentists Association. “This changes the appearance of your teeth and opens the door for bacteria that can cause cavities or infection.

Waiting for at least an hour after meals (particularly acidic meals) may have a huge difference on your teeth, gums, and stomach! 

Brush gently

Another change that you may want to consider making to your tooth brushing routine is how hard you are brushing your teeth. 

As mentioned earlier, brushing too harshly or over-brushing can be extremely detrimental to both your mouth and stomach. The ADA recommends that people use a soft-bristled toothbrush and apply gentle pressure, both of which may help reduce the risk of gingival injury.

Vigorous brushing of the teeth can cause abrasion, which you want to avoid at all costs.

Abrasion is the wearing away of tooth surface caused by friction or a mechanical process,” says Dr. Glenn Clark. “Abrasion happens when teeth are brushed too vigorously in sweeping horizontal strokes. The use of a hard toothbrush can also cause the problem.

Brushing too harshly can result in the stripping of your tooth enamel, which increases the risk of plaque and bacteria buildup. 

Overly vigorous brushing may also potentially trigger your gag reflex, which can cause stomach discomfort and pain. 

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush

A great way to prevent the stripping of tooth enamel from harsh brushing is to switch to a soft-bristle toothbrush. 

If you are using a hard or medium bristle brush and are noticing symptoms such as bleeding gums, pain while brushing, or a buildup of plaque, it may be a sign to switch to a soft-bristle toothbrush. 

Whether you use a manual or powered toothbrush, choose a soft-bristled brush,” says the American Dentists Association. “Firm or even medium-strength bristles may cause damage to your gums and enamel.

Choosing a toothbrush with soft, gentle bristles can help to protect your gums, teeth, and stomach. A toothbrush such as the Boka Classic Brush is a great choice when it comes to soft-bristle brushes. 

FAQs

What happens if I accidentally swallow a small amount of toothpaste?

If you swallow a small amount of toothpaste, it is likely to have no effect on you. However, swallowing small amounts every day may cause some stomach problems (particularly if your toothpaste contains fluoride) as this is known to cause nausea and gastrointestinal issues. 

Which toothpaste is safe if swallowed? 

Many fluoride-free toothpastes are fine to swallow, as they contain ingredients that are safe to be digested. Toothpaste brands such as Boka create toothpastes that are powered by the active ingredient n-Ha rather than fluoride, making them safe to swallow. 

How much toothpaste is harmful if swallowed? 

It would take the consumption of several tubes of toothpaste to have any serious health effects! That being said, regularly swallowing toothpaste that contains fluoride can lead to minor issues such as stomach pain, discomfort, nausea, vomiting, and further gastrointestinal problems. Use of a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is recommended for children from 2 to 6 years of age by the American dental association. 

Other recommendations propose the use of a “smear” of fluoride toothpaste (approximately 0.1 gram of toothpaste or 0.1 milligram of fluoride) for children younger than 2 years and a pea-sized amount (approximately 0.25 g toothpaste or 0.25 mg fluoride) for children from 2 to 6 years of age.

Is it OK to swallow toothpaste foam?

Any form of toothpaste that contains fluoride should not be swallowed. This includes the foam that is produced when brushing. Unless you are using a toothpaste that is safe to ingest, it is important to rinse your mouth thoroughly after brushing and avoid swallowing any toothpaste. 

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