It’s Ok to Brush – Just Don’t Inhale

And you can quote me: "Swallowing toothpaste is one thing. Inhaling it is another, and let me tell you that when that searing hot mint hits your delicate pulmonary tract, you experience a full minute and a half of "oh please God let me die NOW" intense pain with every attempt at breathing."

Posted in My Day, July 27th, 2006

Get notified by email of new posts at Mange Merde!

Searches that led to this article: could it be pneumonia toothpaste got in windpipe,  inhaling toothpaste,  inhaling toothpaste dry drowning,  

Who would ever have thought that a seemingly innocent thing like mint toothpaste could incapacitate someone with what can only be described as a “phasers on stun” response to being accidentally inhaled?

Well, let me tell you, don’t try this at home, kids.

When you think about the act of toothbrushing, and how often you do it (uh, hopefully), the fact that you probably don’t hold your breath when you brush your teeth (although you should if you don’t brush your teeth – at least if you are standing near me), and the proximity of all that toothpastey backwash to your epiglottis, well, it’s amazing that this doesn’t happen more often. Certainly it’s the first time that it has happened in my forty-mumbledy-some-odd years.

But there it was. I was brushing my teeth, with Crest cool-as-ice-ultra-minty gel, and somehow, a tiny bit ended up going down the wrong way.

And let me tell you – when that searing hot mint hits your delicate pulmonary tract, you experience a full minute and a half of “oh please God let me die NOW” intense pain with every attempt at breathing, every futile cough which only serves to re-sear the entire length of your trachea as you desparately claw at your throat and chest and wonder if you will ever live to see another episode of Knotts Landing.

Then for the next five minutes the coughing hurts somewhat less (only somewhat), and you have the bizarre sensation of having minty fresh breath that is minty fresh all the way from the bottom of your lungs on up.

An altogether unpleasant experience, and I think I’m switching to Tom’s of Maine orange/mango toothpaste from here on out.

Searches that led to this article: could it be pneumonia toothpaste got in windpipe,  inhaling toothpaste,  inhaling toothpaste dry drowning,  
Follow me!

Get notified by email of new posts at Mange Merde!

Join me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter


More posts:


  1. Yea… this just happened to me . oops 🙁

    Comment by Matt — November 11, 2018 @ 10:09 pm

  2. I Inhaled Colgate Sensitive toothpaste tonight. My husband went to the store so I was by myself. I thought I was going to suffocate to death. I just couldn’t breathe. My throat was burning, eyes were watering, I couldn’t stop coughing and I was wheezing. Now for some reason I am burping a lot. Worst experience I can remember having. Now I’m scared to brush my teeth again. It’s been about 20 minutes and it’s still burning, still having trouble breathing and still burping. Throwing all the Colgate toothpaste away!!!

    Comment by Cindy — October 13, 2018 @ 5:34 pm

  3. My THROAT!!! (Sad face) OMG inhaling toothpaste is the worst burn there ever was. What a miserable experience when I was just trying to simply brush my teeth.

    Comment by Brittany — October 7, 2018 @ 3:48 am

  4. This just happened to me , I’m 19 years old. I died and came back to life frantically searching google for a burning throat rememdy. I wonder how long the burning lasts because it’s so annoying.

    Comment by Spencer McElway — September 27, 2018 @ 6:34 am

  5. Thank gawd I’m not alone.. you’d think by 50 I would have mastered this task..but alas no. 💜
    I honestly thought I would have to go to the the pain, the phlegm, and now the shaking of the head and laughing at myself.

    Comment by Kim — August 9, 2018 @ 4:08 am

  6. I too am a member of the “Me Toothpaste” movement! I just don’t understand how we don’t have some sort of identifying mark left upon us by this horrificating tragedy!

    Comment by Callie — July 29, 2018 @ 11:32 am

  7. Oh my gosh I have experience Cholking on toothpaste yesterday evening and I experienced much of what people are describing here! I almost thought I should go to er but didn’t not. It is the next morning now and my throat is very scratchy and sore and I have a headache. Going to take some Motrin and hope that helps. Grateful for this thread and knowing I will survive this.

    Comment by Janice loney — July 20, 2018 @ 6:46 am

  8. Omg! I am another Colgate survivor. In all my 38 yrs I have never inhaled toothpaste!! I think I almost died. So glad I found this thread when I went to google. I was certain I needed a hospital! It’s been about 30 mins now and the burning is less and I’m coughing less but WOW! All of your descriptions are exactly what happened. Can’t breathe, coughing, burning…omg the burning which caused coughing which then caused more burning!! What just happened?!? Did we make it? Are we okay??

    Comment by Amber — July 11, 2018 @ 10:40 pm

  9. Lord have mercy. I thought I was going to choke to death!

    Comment by Patrick — May 16, 2018 @ 9:29 am

  10. Another Colgate survivor here. Jeez, my whole throat closed down. I could breath out, but could not even get a teeny bit of breath in. It was as though it closed shut. 44 Years of
    age and the first time it has happened to me.

    Comment by Claire — February 16, 2018 @ 6:51 pm

  11. oh my god!
    I am so afraid of dry-drowning I literally thought to myself that this would be my last day, since inhaling a toothpaste would for sure kill me!

    Glad to know that I can go to bed, coughing, and still be alive tomorrow 😀

    Comment by Evs — November 13, 2017 @ 6:48 pm

  12. Wow, thanks, gyus! i was at cam when… MYTHROATDIES! Im glad im not alone on thus toothpaste-horror-story! im still alive 😉

    Comment by Thankgodnoposion — October 5, 2017 @ 6:26 pm

  13. Thank God I’m not alone and will survive this.

    I’m a recovering asthmatic and I thought for sure that I was going to die a slow death alone in the bathroom with my clogged lungs and the doctors would find no evidence of what had gone wrong.

    I’ve never inhaled toothpaste before. I think I was too happy this morning. It is a very sunny day. Maybe I can carried away in my joy. I’ll be much more careful from now on.

    Wow. I thought for sure this has never happened to anyone before. I’m 36 years old. Even my daughter does not INHALE the toothpaste.

    Comment by Anne — July 11, 2017 @ 8:27 am

  14. I feel like God has punished for something! how can I possibly almost die from inhaling the whitening toothpaste foam while brushing my teeth!!?? and the burning ohh the burning … it feels like I got a 3rd degree burn. after 20 mins my voice is hoarse and i am chocking by this thick saliva which I have no idea why are being produced.. the worst thing is that I am trying to clear my throat and it still burns. I am afraid of brushing my teeth again… But I am so relieved that you guys experienced the same; I am not alone haha

    Comment by Angelika — February 17, 2017 @ 7:18 pm

  15. Googled inhaled toothpaste-can it get into the lung, feeling stupid- but thankfully this mass of comments appeared and it called me right down. I feel awful, my throat feels so sore and my eyes are watering, I’m not crying really I’m not.
    I am finding it easier to breathe through my nose now and will do that for a while as breathing through my mouth just makes me want to cough and gag again. The toothpaste was Arm& Hammer truly radiant.
    I honestly thought I was going pass out as breathing was so difficult and painful, almost vomited which I hate. The more I coughed the worse it got but it was instinct to try and clear it, the panic from not being able to breathe was awful,
    I survived but I don’t think it’s over yet.

    Comment by Mrs. John — January 24, 2017 @ 4:14 am

  16. As I typed into google ‘inhaled toothpaste while brushing my teeth’ , I felt a mix of embaressment and stupidity, as well as panic to quickly figure out if I really needed to go to the hospital. I was expecting to find nothing on the ‘accident’ and/or treatment. But I clicked on the first link, and I found you guys. And it makes me feel so much better that I am not the only one to experience this exact same scenario. The first and worst part of the inhalation was the suffocating moment- there was no breath I could take– the coughing saved me, although I felt like it made the pain worse.
    But my ab muscles started clenching, forcing me to regurgitate whatever was there back up. I absolutely hate vomiting and avoid it all the time (I’d rather suffer through a terrible day-long hangover than vomit out the previous nights’ ingestions…) I was freshly out of the shower, not yet dressed and only thoughts of death swarmed into my head; trying to figure out how I would tell 911 what was happening. The coughing just made it worse and would just bring on more gagging / vomiting. I drank loads of water, gargled, but the only thing that allowed it to pass was time. The nuasea went away slowly and now it’s just the throat pain. Shortly after I texted my boyfriend and told him I think i almost died. It really felt like I was going to suffocate to death……
    Anyway, safe to say, I AM a survivor !!!!!!! And thank you all for your great posts. I’m so happy to have found you.
    P.s it’s been almost 2 hours and I still have sandpaper throat and an acid taste. I hope it didn’t do much more damage.

    Comment by Nicole — January 10, 2017 @ 4:42 pm

  17. Colgate tried to kill me too! Inhaled a bit of it and then couldn’t breathe, I thought I was going to die! I drank lots of water and coughed a lot, which burned so much, and then got a popsicle. It’s now about 15 minutes post Colgate inhalation, and the burning sensation is less but still there. Hope it’s gone overnight! Worst thing in the world…

    Comment by Karla Vasquez — December 23, 2016 @ 10:57 pm

  18. Just did this and it feels like sandpaper in my glottis. Hurts to cough. Definitely worst experience I’ve ever had. In the heat of moment I got scared and put my finger down my throat to make myself puke and then I realized how dumb that was.

    Comment by Catie — December 13, 2016 @ 9:54 pm

  19. Hi, I’m Nicky, and I too am a Colgate survivor. I was brushing my teeth when I heard something in the news about war between Russia and USA is Hillary wins and I inhaled in surprise. My throat shut down immediately, I couldn’t breathe, I was coughing! My eyes started to water! every time I coughed felt like sand paper rubbing against my throat. I one point I thought I’d vomit!! It felt like I had held my breath for at least a minute!! It’s been 5 hours and my voice my voice is hoarse. In my 28 years of life I never thought I’d potentially die from brushing my teeth until today! I felt this was too embarrassing to tell people but I feel better knowing that there are other toothpaste breathers out there.:D

    Comment by Nicky — October 21, 2016 @ 1:33 pm

  20. My name is Jeff, and i inhaled toothpaste. *HI JEFF*.
    It all started when I was 40 and coughed while brushing. I have a problem, thank u all.

    Comment by Jeff — September 26, 2016 @ 7:10 am

  21. So I also had this experience this morning. I was alone and somehow inhaled a glob of toothpaste foam. At first I thought I could just cough it out, but then the excruciating burning started, and coughing just made it worse. I couldn’t breathe at one point and started to panic. I then started vomiting but that just brought more acid into the picture, which didn’t help at all. What a nightmare! I thought I was going to die alone on my bathroom floor, foaming at the mouth. What would people think? Surely not that I had died from brushing my teeth? It is now 3 hours later and I’m still coughing and have burning in the back of my throat. I agree there should be some kind of warning on the toothpaste, but also reassurance that you won’t die if it is inhaled but will be extremely uncomfortable. Holding my breath while brushing from now on. Oh, and I am over 40.

    Comment by Patty — September 2, 2016 @ 9:17 am

  22. 53 with habit of choking on own spit. Last night I inhaled toothpaste spit. It is 24 hours later and I am still coughing and clearing my throat. During the night and again this morning, I coughed so hard, I nearly vomited. Now I cannot function because of exhaustion, chest pain from coughing, and a horrible headache. I’m just glad to know that I will survive this lovely. painful, burning experience of fun. Thank goodness I don’t have to go to work today! I am so glad to have found a community of toothpaste breathers to help me understand and cope. Please, never let this happen again!!!!

    Comment by Anne Jenkins — July 29, 2016 @ 9:59 am

  23. Oh my dear god I’m so glad I found this page. It has taken me 23 years to experience pain like this and I hope it never happens again.
    “The incident” happened about 10 mins ago (feels like hours), I thought I would never breathe again and after much coughing, gagging and vomiting as quietly as I can because this happened at 1.30am I will try and sleep it off. If I dont wake up tomorrow tell my family I love them and wage war on Colgate

    Comment by Kiri — June 4, 2016 @ 8:39 am

  24. Sweet jesus have mercy on my airway. I think I coughed up a half gallon of frothy toothpaste cleaned bronchial lung nuggets. The afterburn of vomit pales in comparison. Screw waterboarding, this is torture.

    Comment by Andy Throatferno — June 1, 2016 @ 8:53 pm

  25. When your husband says ‘do you smell something?’ Do not, I repeat, do not inhale while you have toothpaste in your mouth. Oh the pain! Who knew brushing your teeth could be so dangerous! It’s been 10 minutes now and I am still alive.

    Comment by Nic — January 25, 2016 @ 5:06 am

  26. Thank God for Google, I was about to call poison control because I inhaled a bit of toothpaste and my throat feels like it is in one of the circles of hell. Now I know that I am not alone, and apparently no one has died from this….but dang, this hurts.

    Comment by Lara — January 19, 2016 @ 10:29 pm

  27. Thank the lord, i thought i was going to die until i read these. It felt like i swallowed a tube of icy hot and it was hardening in my throat. Absolutely terrifying.

    Comment by Gabe — November 28, 2015 @ 12:30 am

  28. Like most of you…this has never happened to me before. 35+ years and not once…until now. Went to brush my teeth this evening and realized we were out of our usual adult brand so I used Colgate for kids….HOLY CRAP! This is for kids?!?! I hate to think how my 8 year old would handle this as I felt like I was dying. It’s been 15 minutes and my throat is STILL burning………ugh.

    Comment by Christal — November 14, 2015 @ 8:52 pm

  29. When I inhaled I felt the toothpaste go up the pipe somehow and now no amount of water will reach the spot that’s bothering me. I also had a horrible gag reflex and was this close to vomiting. Throat still feels like sandpaper, but at least I found this amazing page.

    Comment by Ryann — November 14, 2015 @ 1:58 am

  30. I thought I was dead.The worst pain every.
    It’s four hours later and I can still hardly talk.
    This shit ain’t funny.
    Colgate suck!!!!

    Comment by Chris — October 22, 2015 @ 2:10 pm

  31. This is hilarious. I just did this (Colgate Triple Action) and I thought I was going to die. I’m glad it seems no one has posted anything implying that the worst is still to come…. unless you all did die?

    We should start a support group.

    Comment by Omar — January 31, 2015 @ 6:17 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a comment

Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>