But I just want to feel minty fresh!
June 16, 2006 5:37 AM   Subscribe

Why does toothpaste nauseate me in the mornings?

Every morning I get up, shower, brush my teeth, and immediately feel like puking. I have tried switching toothpaste, I have stopped using mouthwash in the morning (because that's even worse), and I have ultimately put off brushing until right before I leave so I can get dressed without needing to sit down.
I am a female, I am not pregnant, and this only happens in the morning. When I brush my teeth at night, I have no problem. Any googling brings up a bunch of pages on pregnancy and morning sickness or the dangers of eating toothpaste.
Does anyone else have to deal with this? Any tips on how to make it stop? Any clue as to why it happens?
posted by denimflavored to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you drink water or juice or breakfast or something before brushing your teeth? Toothpaste is not going to be the best thing your body will want after several hours of fasting.
posted by birdherder at 5:52 AM on June 16, 2006

this is kind of out there, but do you take daily oral contraceptives? if so, do you take your pill in the morning?

the hormones in OCPs make your body think its pregnant, even when it isn't. if you're one of those unfortunates (like me) for whom morning sickness is one of the similarities, then that may be the problem.

for me, switching to taking OCPs at night just before I went to bed absolutely ended for all time these symptoms. why? god only knows. when you take them does not matter, just so long as you take them every day at the same time.

I also have had the icky feeling from toothpaste in the AM, tho not as strongly as it sounds like you do. a girlfriend in my teens used to claim brushing her teeth make her feel like throwing up.

for both of us the equation turned out to be the Pill and the fact that we took it in the morning.

if this is not the case, then try switching toothpaste brands to a natural type, like tom's of maine. it doesn't have some of the harsh chemicals to which you might be sensitive.

or else drink a cup of ginger tea or have some toast with butter, sugar and powdered ginger on in the morning. seriously. ginger is a proven antiemetic.
posted by lonefrontranger at 5:53 AM on June 16, 2006

Just throwing a few random thoughts out there:

Has it always happened, or is it recent? Have you tried other flavours, not just brands? Are you sleeping enough? Have you tried eating or drinking something, then brushing your teeth? Could it be a gag reflex caused by the toothbrush?
posted by Leon at 5:57 AM on June 16, 2006

Ginger has been shown to reduce nausea related to morning sickness, motion sickness, and surgery, so it might help here, too. That is, if you think you might like ginger-flavored toothpaste. You should be able to find some in the cosmetics aisle of a health food store or similar.
posted by nevers at 5:58 AM on June 16, 2006

I often retch a bit after brushing my teeth and have wondered if it's a chemical reaction (to the saccharine?) or just having a toothbrush hit gag reflex zones. Not sure if that's the same as your "nausea" but I certainly sympathize. I haven't tried Tom's of Maine (or another non-saccharine toothpaste) yet because it's not been a huge problem, but interesting to see someone else suffers something similar. Also, I don't recall this being a problem at night either, interestingly...
posted by rleamon at 6:12 AM on June 16, 2006

I'm going to take a wild guess from your name and assume that smells are something you're particularly aware of. I'm not saying you have morning sickness from pregnancy but most morning sickness symptoms occur in the morning --surprise-- because that is when the sense of smell is at its sharpest.

Perhaps you have a very sensitive olfactory system that is reacting in the same way as a women with pregnancy induced morning sickness. A way around this may be to try brushing you're teeth with bakingsoda or something else that has no smell.
posted by 517 at 6:16 AM on June 16, 2006

I have always had this problem. For years I used only plain baking soda to brush my teeth. These days I use Tom's of Maine toothpastes. I think it was the overly sweet saccharine flavoring of conventional toothpastes.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:30 AM on June 16, 2006

Could you just brush without toothpaste to get rid of plaque then chew some sugar free gum if there are nasty mouth taste issues?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:39 AM on June 16, 2006

Do you drink water or juice or breakfast or something before brushing your teeth? Toothpaste is not going to be the best thing your body will want after several hours of fasting.

I second that. Whenever I brush my teeth before eating anythinng in morning, I get (slight) nausea. I think it could have to do with the flavouring (ubiquitous mint), which is pretty potent stuff. I'd try switching flavours (Tom's of Maine has alternatives to mint, but I think you can now also find them in mainstream brands). Of course, another obvious solution is actually eat something before you brush your teeth.
posted by bluefrog at 6:49 AM on June 16, 2006

I reached the point about four or five years ago that the typical brands of toothpaste (Crest, Colgate) were entirely too sweet and nausea-inducing to handle. I switched to Tom's of Maine Spearmint and it has increased my willingness to brush my teeth--made it downright enjoyable. There are no sweetners in Tom's and while it tastes a bit odd at first, your taste buds quickly adapt and you forget there's no sweetner.
posted by gsh at 7:07 AM on June 16, 2006

It might not be toothpaste. Do you skip breakfast but take a morning multi-vitamin? Taking an iron supplement on an empty stomach can be intensely nauseating. (It takes maybe 5 or 10 minutes to kick in, and then goes away within just a couple more.) I had this exact problem for a period of time until I figured out the connection.
posted by Plutor at 7:31 AM on June 16, 2006

The Toms of Maine toothpaste is strange. It feels a bit like brushing with wet clay. You say you've tried different toothpastes, does that include the other flavors? I know some of the major brands have flavors like cinnamon or lemon. The cinnamon is better than the lemon, but neither felt quite right to me.
posted by jaysus chris at 7:45 AM on June 16, 2006

When I had toothpaste related issues (canker sores) I switched to baking-sode based toothpaste, and everything became right-as-rain. Your body could be reacting to some of the chemicals in the toothpaste.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:52 AM on June 16, 2006

I've had the same problem and to thwart it, I take every effort to get every ounce of toothpaste out of my mouth by rinsing and rerinsing and taking care not to swallow any of it. If I swallow even a tiny bit, I'm sick right away. I also don't eat or drink anything for a while until the flavor of toothpaste goes away.
posted by bristolcat at 8:07 AM on June 16, 2006

... and you're definitely not pregnant?
posted by gramcracker at 8:55 AM on June 16, 2006

This happens to me as well, I've been thinking of coming in and asking this myself!

I am not preggo, nor am I on any contraceptives.

I can't remember this happening more than a year ago, but for as long as I can recently remember; brushing my teeth makes me feel queasy and a fierce need to vomit. (Lots of dry heaving is included)

I usually wait untill I am almost out of my apartment before I brush, and I do not take vitamins or eat breakfast before hand.

I've been using the same toothpaste for about 3 years, it's Colgate Herbal White with eucalyptus, melissa and mint herbs.

I will check out the Tom's toothpaste and see if that stops the yucky feelings, but if anyone knows what causes this, i would very very very much like to know.
posted by Lizc at 9:27 AM on June 16, 2006

How intense are your stress & anxiety levels? I found that this was a problem for me when I was going through a lot of stress at work. It usually passed in a few hours so I brought a toothbrush and toothpaste to work. Using Tom's of Maine also really helped for some reason.
posted by echolalia67 at 10:17 AM on June 16, 2006

Lizc, you and I sound like we're having a lot of the same problems. But to answer everyone's questions:
I am not on a daily contraceptive. I'm on the patch, which is once a week (so yes, I'm sure I'm not pregnant).
This started a few months ago when I started using mouthwash in the morning. I stopped after a few days since I thought that was the cause.
I've switched brands AND flavors. I usually use Arm & Hammer (big fan of the baking soda toothpastes), but I switched to Crest Vanilla Mint for the week to see if that would help. I do not swallow any of the toothpaste.
I don't eat breakfast before I brush because eating that early also makes me a little sick, but not to the same degree. Come to think of it, early morning anything does not make my stomach happy (even though I generally get around 8 hours of sleep).
I do take a daily multivitamin, but I've been taking the same vitamin every morning for the last 4 or 5 years. Maybe my stomach has just recently become sensitive to that?
Thanks for all the suggestions. I do think I'll switch to Tom's for a while (do they have sensitive teeth toothpaste?). Hopefully that will help.
posted by denimflavored at 10:23 AM on June 16, 2006

I was actually experiencing this too - before I was pregnant (now that I'm pregnant, it's back with a vengeance). For some reason, brushing with one of the electric toothbrushes made it easier to handle. I had tried switching toothpastes and some were slightly better than others, but the nausea always came back after using a toothpaste for a while. The electric toothbrush didn't completely get rid of it, but vastly improved my tooth-brushing experience!
posted by chrisubus at 10:31 AM on June 16, 2006

I have this problem as well. I've started buying natural toothpastes -- I'm a big fan of Jason brand toothpaste (I thought the Tom's of Maine tasted NASTY...but it didn't make me sick) -- and I've found that a natural toothpaste helps considerably. I used some Colgate on vacation last week and I was sick every morning.
posted by whatideserve at 1:16 PM on June 16, 2006

Sensodyne has a pretty mild flavor, not minty at all. You might also try brushing with just water in the morning, reserving toothpaste for later in the day, after you've eaten something.
posted by Margalo Epps at 2:26 PM on June 16, 2006

Yeah, I hate the Toothpaste Taste. To rid myself of it, I gargle fresh water, like, 3 times to get the taste out of my mouth. That works pretty well.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:13 PM on June 16, 2006

This happens to me too. I know I am not pregnant, because I am not a female. It doesn't happen all the time, and is less frequent in winter.

I've also taken to drinking some water in the morning. Seems to help a bit.
posted by drstein at 6:52 PM on June 16, 2006

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