Science / Medicine : Toothpaste Linked to Asthma

From Times staff and wire reports

Asthma sufferers who find themselves wheezing and coughing might look to their toothpaste as a possible cause of their problems, two doctors said last week. An artificial mint flavoring found in a brand of toothpaste made from an opaque paste instead of a gel apparently triggered breathing problems in a 21-year-old woman with a history of asthma, according to a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Then, she switched toothpastes. She had been using Crest Tartar Control toothpaste, “but when she switched to a gel-based toothpaste her wheezing resolved dramatically,” wrote Drs. Bruce Spurlock and Thomas Dailey of Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Santa Clara, Calif.

When the woman subsequently used any paste-based toothpaste, she started wheezing again within 10 minutes, they said.

Terry Glover, spokeswoman for Procter and Gamble Co., the maker of Crest, said she was unaware of any other cases in which toothpaste apparently induced asthma symptoms.