BookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxFilledCheckBoxCircleBumpCheckedFilledMedical

Toothbrush Injuries Are Alarmingly Common in Preschoolers, Study Finds

While toothbrush injuries are frightening, they're highly preventable.
save article
profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
By Nehal Aggarwal, Editor
Updated December 20, 2019
toddler brushing her teeth
Image: Shutterstock

Toothbrushes have been known to cause frightening injuries in kids. Second-grader Reese White experienced this first-hand.

The youngest of four children, she lives in Versailles, Missouri with her parents. Of everyone in her family, she’s the shortest and can’t yet look at herself in the mirror above the bathroom sink. When Reese was brushing her teeth in front of the mirror on the back of her parents door last March, her mom didn’t see her. Upon opening the door, she wound up knocking the toothbrush into Reese’s throat.

“She didn’t start screaming or freaking out right away,” her mom, Kelly White, told University of Missouri Health Care medical center. “She just went into my son’s room, and I heard him say, ‘Oh, my God, what’s wrong with her? She’s bleeding!’ I ran into the room, and there was just blood everywhere.”

Upon taking Reese to the hospital, the parents discovered the toothbrush punctured the back of Reese’s throat—in a place that was close to an artery that supplies blood to the brain. Luckily, after evaluation, doctor’s found, in Reese’s case, it was just a small puncture wound and didn’t require stitches or surgery.

Reese’s parents believed the injury to be a “freak accident,” but Christopher Sampson—the doctor who treated her—had seen plenty of similar cases before. He even researched how common toothbrush injuries from 2006 to 2016, finding that, according to the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) database, there were an estimated 8,500 toothbrush injuries that sent people to the ER within those 10 years. His research was published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine last year.

“We found most of those injured by toothbrushes were 4 years old and younger,” Sampson told the center. “A majority were seen in the emergency department and then discharged. But we found a significant number of cases that required sutures or surgery.”

ADVERTISEMENT

It’s important to note that toothbrushes typically come with a warning label that recommends adult supervision for children who are 3-years-old or younger. “Parents should make sure young children don’t wander away from the sink while brushing,” Sampson told the health care center. “There are always risks if you are walking around or running with a toothbrush in your mouth. Just stand by the sink and focus on the job you’re doing.”

As scary as the injury sounds, Kelly told the center that Reese’s injury healed fairly quickly. Now, when Reese in is the bathroom, Kelly says she always knocks before she enters and warns her daughter to stand away from the door.

As scary as toothbrush injuries are, the good news is they can be easily preventable. Make sure to keep your child (and yourself) by the sink until they’re done brushing.

Looking for the best toothbrushes for baby? Here are our recommendations.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

Pouring a multivitamin into food
5 Best Toddler Vitamins, Tested by a Dietitian (and Mom)
Medically Reviewed by Dina DiMaggio Walters, MD
doctor giving vaccine to baby
Doctor Starts “Ouchless Jab Challenge” to Ease Pain & Needle Fears
By Wyndi Kappes
mom and dad both lifting up their toddler
35 Daily Affirmations for Kids to Boost Little Ones’ Confidence
By Marygrace Taylor
ADVERTISEMENT
Best Head Lice Treatments
The Best Head Lice Treatments for Toddlers and Preschoolers
Medically Reviewed by Dina DiMaggio Walters, MD
7 Ways to Support Your Toddler’s Immune System This Winter
7 Ways to Support Your Toddler’s Immune System This Winter
By Ashley Zielger
happy dog leaning on pregnant woman's belly while sitting on couch at home
Having Pets May Help Reduce Childhood Food Allergies, Study Says
By Wyndi Kappes
new at home covid and flu test by Lucira Health
The FDA Approves First At-Home Flu and Covid Test
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
mother giving young son a high five while doing homework on laptop
Study: This Parenting Technique May Help Decrease Childhood Obesity
By Nehal Aggarwal
This Is Where the US Ranks Among the Best Countries to Raise a Child
This Is Where the US Ranks Among the Best Countries to Raise a Child
By Nehal Aggarwal
collage of nutritional foods for baby, including, eggs, pecans, peanuts and cheese
The USDA Has Released Updated Nutritional Guidelines for Babies
By Nehal Aggarwal
ADVERTISEMENT
former first lady michelle obama
Michelle Obama Has a Kids’ Food Show Coming Out on Netflix
By Nehal Aggarwal
Toddler's Diarrhea
Toddler's Diarrhea
By Jennifer L.W. Fink
How Can I Keep My Toddler Safe in and Around Swimming Pools?
How Can I Keep My Toddler Safe in and Around Swimming Pools?
By The Bump Editors
ADVERTISEMENT
Swim Gear for Toddlers
Swim Gear for Toddlers
By Michael Lee, MD
toddler girl going down playground slide
Pediatricians’ Top 5 Playground Safety Tips
By Dina DiMaggio, MD, and Anthony F. Porto, MD, MPH
mom putting sunscreen on toddler at the beach
Tips for Getting Sunscreen on a Wriggly, Restless Toddler
By Liz Callahan Schnabolk
happy little boy walking to school
Video of Toddler Chanting His Daily Affirmations Will Melt Your Heart
By Ashley Edwards Walker
ADVERTISEMENT
toddler girl using mobile phone at the airport
Toddler’s Excessive Use of Screen Time Leads to Severely Impaired Vision
By Stephanie Grassullo
toddler plays with toys on the floor
Report: Spike in Toddlers Being Rushed to the ER for Swallowing Non-Food Things
By Stephanie Grassullo
father giving daughter medicine
This Epic Hack for Giving a Toddler Medicine Will Blow Your Mind
By Stephanie Grassullo
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.