Reference Index - Poison

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Fluoride overdose

Definition:

Fluoride is a chemical commonly used to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride overdose occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally takes more than the normal or recommended amount of this substance.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

See also: Fluoride in diet



Poisonous Ingredient:
  • Fluoride


Where Found:

Fluoride is found in many over-the-counter and prescription products, including:

  • Certain mouthwashes and toothpastes
  • Certain vitamins (Tri-Vi-Flor, Poly-Vi-Flor, Vi-Daylin F)
  • Fluoridated water
  • Sodium fluoride liquid and tablets

Fluoride may also be found in other household items, including

  • Etching cream
  • Roach powders

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.



Symptoms:

Before Calling Emergency:

Determine the following information:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition (for example, is the person awake or alert?)
  • Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

However, DO NOT delay calling for help if this information is not immediately available.



Poison Control, or a local emergency number:

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

See: Poison control center - emergency number



What to expect at the emergency room:

The health care provider will measure and monitor the patient's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The patient may receive:

  • Calcium or milk
  • Methods or medicines to cause vomiting
  • Tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach (gastric lavage )


Expectations (prognosis):

How well a patient does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment was received. The faster a patient gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

The amount of flouride found in toothpaste is usually not swallowed in large enough amounts to cause harm.



References:

Scalzo AJ, Blume-Odom CM. Hydrofluoric acid and other fluorides. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 90.




Review Date: 1/20/2010
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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