Could Brushing Your Teeth Be Irritating Your Skin?

According to a survey by Delta Dental, the average American brushes their teeth twice a day — which appears to be in line with what dentists recommend. Per Mayo Clinic, dentists advise brushing for an average of two minutes to prevent cavities, tartar buildup, and gum disease. Clearly, brushing your teeth is a key component of good health, but could conscientious oral hygiene habits be wreaking havoc on your skin?

Toothpaste is an important part of most people's teeth brushing routines — and when brushing your teeth for two minutes straight, it's common to find your toothpaste traveling to the corners of your mouth or even down your chin. This might not seem like a problem for some, especially for those who swear by using toothpaste on acne. (Though this is a common home remedy for blemishes, Verywell Health cautions that applying toothpaste to a zit can actually cause more redness and irritation.) In general, experts seem to agree that toothpaste has no place on your face. Furthermore, your daily teeth brushing habits may be causing major problems for your skin.

Toothpastes can contain up to 30 skin-irritating ingredients

Even if you've already sworn off using toothpaste as an acne spot treatment, the toothpaste you use for your teeth could still be aggravating your skin — especially the skin around your mouth. The harsh ingredients in toothpaste may irritate your skin if your toothpaste tends to drip out of your mouth while brushing. That's because many of the same ingredients that help to keep teeth white and clean, such as calcium carbonate and sodium lauryl sulfate, can damage skin, according to Medical News Today. Studies have also suggested that cavity-fighting fluoride may trigger skin disorders. For example, fluoride may be one possible cause of perioral dermatitis, which is a cluster of red, acne-like bumps found near the mouth, according to the Chicago Tribune.

In other cases, a toothpaste allergy could be the cause of redness, itchiness, and other skin irritation around the mouth. And for some, toothpaste affects not only the skin on the face, but also inside the mouth. One of the 30 allergens and irritants found in toothpaste may cause mouth ulcers, peeling skin on the cheeks and gums, and a burning sensation, as DermNet NZ notes.

Protect your teeth ... without hurting your skin

In good news for all of us, keeping your smile squeaky clean doesn't have to come at the expense of your skin. If you're noticing redness or other irritation around the mouth, try your best to keep toothpaste from dripping on your skin. If necessary, you can also wipe your mouth with a napkin while brushing your teeth, to prevent excess drool from coming in contact with your skin.

If you do get a little toothpaste on the skin around your mouth, there's no need to worry! Dermatologist Hadley King, M.D. told MindBodyGreen that nourishing skincare products with aloe, colloidal oat, shea butter, and hyaluronic acid can help to soothe sensitive skin around the mouth. It's also a good idea to visit your doctor to find out which ingredients in your toothpaste may be triggering irritation. And if your skin issues persist, consider getting an allergen patch test to rule out any allergies. You could be allergic to an ingredient in your toothpaste, or your skin irritation could actually be a rash signaling another allergy, such as a food allergy. Talking to your doctor or dermatologist can help you determine the exact cause of your skin woes and which remedies to try.