Dental prophylaxis with APF gels (1.23%) may cause gastric distress as a side-effect. This gastric irritation is probably due to a direct toxic effect of fluoride (F), swallowed in conjunction with the treatment, on the gastric mucosa. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether–and to what extent–a dental treatment with 3 g of a 0.42%-F gel could affect the gastric mucosa due to inadvertent swallowing of the gel. Ten subjects underwent a control gastroscopy, and two weeks later, a second gastroscopy was performed two h after a F gel treatment. During the gastroscopy, the mucosa was examined and the injuries graded according to an arbitrary scale. Four biopsies of the antral and corpus regions of the stomach were taken and evaluated histologically. The mean (+/- SD) amount of F retained after the application was 5.1 +/- 2.1 mg, i.e., 40% of the applied amount of F. Petechiae and erosions were found in the mucosa in seven of the ten patients. The histopathological evaluation revealed changes in nine of ten patients, with the surface epithelium as the most affected component of the mucosa. The present study clearly shows that a treatment with a F gel of rather low F concentration may result in injuries to the gastric mucosa. The importance of current recommended guidelines so that the amount of F swallowed during a gel application can be minimized is emphasized. From a toxicological standpoint, the use of a low-F gel instead of a 1.23%-F gel in small children is recommended for avoidance of adverse gastric effects.