Mouthwashes and mouth rinses are meant to be spit out, not swallowed, because even natural mouthwash products may contain ingredients that can be poisonous if ingested in large amounts.
If you, or a child, should swallow a small amount of fluoride mouthwash (or any other type), there's no reason to panic, but do take care to avoid it happening again by taking some of these steps:
- Supervise children. Don't let children use a mouthwash unsupervised. It has been recommended that children between ages 6 and 12 need to supervised when they use a mouthwash. Many companies use child-resistant caps to help you out. Be sure they spit it out. Children younger than 6 years may have trouble controlling the swallowing reflex, so mouthwash is not recommended for young children.
- Pay attention. Don't let family members distract you when you're performing your oral care routine; distraction might make you forget to spit and you may swallow the mouthwash by mistake. Go into the bathroom and shut the door.
Swallowing small amounts of mouthwash may leave you feeling a bit queasy or may even cause diarrhea, but these symptoms should pass. However, if your child or someone you know overdoses on mouthwash by drinking and swallowing a large amount, take these steps:
- Call the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 for quick, confidential help. Do not try to make the person who swallowed the mouthwash vomit it up. Instead, be sure you have information about the victim's age, weight, and the type and amount of product swallowed. It's very important to have the product close by so you can tell the operator the specific ingredients.
- Check the label to see which of these potentially poisonous products the mouthwash contains: fluoride or ethanol. Severe symptoms of a mouthwash overdose related to these ingredients may include dizziness, drowsiness, trouble breathing, or, in serious cases, convulsions or a coma. In severe cases, head for the emergency room, and bring the mouthwash bottle with you if possible.