PURPOSE: The American Association of Poison Control Center’s annual reports demonstrate that acute fluoride exposure is not an uncommon occurrence. Despite its prevalence, there has been little published research on the topic in the last 10 years. The purpose of this study was to calculate the incidence of acute fluoride toxicity and lethality as it occurs in New Jersey and provide a descriptive epidemiology of acute fluoride exposures.
METHODS: The study design was retrospective in nature. Records of phone calls made by individuals reporting excessive fluoride exposure (in an amount greater than directed/prescribed) to New Jersey’s poison control center, known as Poison Information and Education System from the years 2010 through 2012, were extracted from Toxicall® (Computer Automatic Systems, Inc.) database. A total of 2,476 human-only exposure records met the inclusion criteria and were analyzed. Incidence rates were calculated, and population characteristics, circumstances and medical outcomes of acute fluoride exposure cases were assessed and categorized.
RESULTS: A total of 2,476 phone call records met the inclusion criteria. The fluoride exposures reported were from toothpaste with fluoride (49%, n=1,214), mouth rinse with fluoride (21.6%, n=536), multivitamin with fluoride (21.4%, n=530) and pure fluoride (0.08%, n=199). Medically speaking, 94.75% of calls were asymptomatic cases (n=2,346), 4.24% were symptomatic (n=105) and 1.01% were informational inquiries (n=25). Adverse symptoms reported were mostly minor (83.9% of symptomatic cases, n=88) and moderate (16.1% of symptomatic cases, n=17). The age group 18 months to 3 years of age showed the highest incidence of acute fluoride exposure (53.2%, n=1,317). There was a slightly higher incidence of acute fluoride exposures among males (n=1,317) vs. females (n=1,159). Most incidences occurred in the home (93.1% of records, n=2,305) and occurred unintentionally (96.7%, n=2,394). Calls were mainly made by the subject’s mother (67.5%, n=1,671).
CONCLUSION: Based on the data, there were no reports of lethality or toxicity due to acute fluoride exposure in New Jersey from 2010 through 2012. Symptomatic reports and informational inquiries were few. All adverse outcomes due to excessive fluoride intake were remedied with calcium as the antidote. Dental hygienists should educate patients on safety measures of fluoride-containing products and evaluate overall fluoride exposure prior to making recommendations. However, findings in this study suggest that levels of fluoride in available commercial products will not produce life-threatening events, even if taken in doses higher than recommended.